Despite being the largest invertebrate on our planet, giant squid remain a mystery. The species lives far too deep for divers to study. But body parts – and whole carcasses – have washed up on shore. Adult giant squid are so mammoth, they can have basketball-sized eyeballs. The biggest one ever found was 59 feet in length and weighed almost a ton.
But Humboldt squid – a creature that can reach six feet in length and weigh more than 100 pounds – live at depth of 660-2,300 feet, making them an easier jumbo species to spot, especially when Humboldts are on the hunt. These squids feed in schools of as many as 1,200 individuals.
A Humboldt squid only lives about a year and, as the months pass, its wing darkens. Their skin varys from white to purplish-red, but Humboldts capable of blinking a range of colors. Many people who once believed this was for defensive purposes now think Humboldts flash color to communicate.
Humboldts are notorious cannibals, eating their own when hungry. A Humboldt squid has barbed suckers on its tentacles that puncture their prey’s skin, helping to lift an injured victims into its mouth (where a giant beak shreds the flesh).
Studying Humboldt squid up close is no easy task. This species is legendary for its aggressive behaviors (after all, Mexican shrimpers nicknamed them Red Devils for good reasons!).
Humboldt squid have been known to assault divers when threatened, eject themselves from the ocean to escape a predator (such as a sperm whale), fight after they’ve been captured, and spray their captors with water and black ink.
By sheer fluke, the Shark Men recently found a mantle of a giant squid while they were tracking Great Whites in the Pacific. This chance discovery spurred an out-of-their-element search for giant squid – a creature never seen face-to-face in the wild. The Shark Men will study the scars of pilot whales, track a pod of sperm whales, and send a camera into the abyss in pursuit of their prize.
Tune into Shark Men: The Cannibal this Saturday, June 18th, at 10 pm EST/PT!
VIDEO PREVIEW: The Shark Men team dive down deep in search of mammoth squid.