Dosidicus Gigas, commonly known as the Humboldt Squid, are exceptional swimmers with specialized color tissue that enables them to shift their hue swiftly and continuously. This activity serves as a means of interspecies communication and a cautionary signal to other animals. 

Its official scientific designation Gigas is a Greek word that translates to “giant” as a reference to it being the biggest representative of the floating squid species. Also worth mentioning is that they are the sole living member of its genus. 

The Humboldt squid exhibits social characteristics like communication and coordinated hunts in the open, which are absent in other invertebrate species. As with a number of cephalopods, it has an advanced neural network architecture, allowing it to perform such intelligent behavior.


The Humboldt Squid is the biggest Ommastrephidae species, with some specimens reaching body lengths of 4 ft 11 in and weights of up to 110 lbs. Typically, the females grow at bigger sizes than the males, suggesting that they are sexually dimorphic.

The Humboldt Squid can abruptly alter its color between red and white due to a process, called metachrosis
The Humboldt Squid can abruptly alter its color between red and white due to a process, called metachrosis

The length is increased by just a few feet by the 10 jagged tendrils, each with between 100 to 200 suction cups. The 10 tendrils intersect at the bottom of the mantle, in which the sharp beak, characterized by a powerful bite, resides. They share chromatophores with other representatives of the Ommastrephidae genus, allowing them to alter their body tones abruptly, or “metachrosis,” referred to as the swift flashing of their epidermis between red and white.


The Humboldt Squid’s dietary needs primarily consist of tiny fish, crabs, and some cephalopods. Initially grabs its target with its stinging tentacles, then employs its beak and radula to slash and shred the tissue of the carcass. They frequently move fast toward their prey while extending all 10 of their tentacles in a cone-like formation. 

When in range, they stretch 2 long tentacles with sharpened barbs, expand their 8 moving and gripping arms, and catch their prey with them before drawing it down towards its beak that can effortlessly rip through human flesh. This happens in fractions of seconds, with the power of the Humboldt Squid beak easily snapping bone.


Humboldt Squids are most frequently located at varying depths between 660-2,300 ft, spanning Tierra del Fuego all the way to California. One such species is extending its range northward into the Pacific Northwest’s waterways, including those in Alaska, British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington.

Humboldt Squid are wide-spread across America, from California, all the way to Alaska and British Columbia
Humboldt Squid are wide-spread across America, from California, all the way to Alaska and British Columbia

Humboldt squid has become more prevalent in recent years, which has led to a significant decline in species like Pacific hake. This has sparked worries about the squid’s possible impact on other species, notably the Alaskan salmon. In addition to the reduction of the region’s main predators, such as large predators, these squids may continue to advance along the northern coastline, endangering the stability of these coastal habitats as a whole.


The Humboldt squid’s true reproductive practices are mostly unknown. They appear to breed at such depths that courting displays are seldom seen. Changes in hue are thought to affect wooing by indicating sexual desirability. Once a pair has decided to mate, the male will use one of his particular appendages to inject his sperm into the female’s skin. 

The female squid will generate a viscous clump of roughly one million eggs following fertilization. Every year, females may mate with several different individuals and lay up to 20 million eggs throughout their brief lives. After only about one week, tiny, defenseless young emerge. For protection, the juveniles will group into sizable schools, as they aren’t protected by their parents.


Large predators, including killer whales, pilot whales, marlins, swordfishes, certain species of massive seals, and most sharks, are natural predators of the Humboldt squid. One of the different protective mechanisms of this squid is the ability to squirt ink at attackers when frightened. Also, it has the ability to escape quickly at amazing speeds and even jump above the sea. They aren’t a threatened species; on the contrary, they are disruptors of the ecosystem that they invade.

Humboldt squid has become more prevalent in recent years and a disruptor of ecosystems along the northern US coastline
Humboldt squid has become more prevalent in recent years and a disruptor of ecosystems along the northern US coastline

Facts about the Humboldt Squid

  1. Humboldt Squid can swim up to 15 mph.
  2. Humboldt Squid can alter their color by metachrosis.
  3. Humboldt Squid can jump out to the surface.
  4. The Humboldt Squid’s nervous system allows them to exhibit intelligent behavior.
  5. Humboldt Squid stays in groups of thousands of specimens called “shoals.”


Are Humboldt Squids dangerous to humans?

Humboldt Squid are fairly aggressive species and considering their tentacles have sharp components, and their beak can tear through flesh, and bone it is not advised to get in close proximity to them. Shiny lights and scuba equipment will draw them, and they are not afraid to attack humans if threatened, as there are countless of reported cases.

How long does Humboldt Squid live?

Humboldt Squids have a relatively short lifespan of just 1–2 years; considering the fact that they mature dramatically from the juvenile stage to the fully-fledged adult, they are not known for particular longevity. 

What is the largest Humboldt Squid on record?

According to reports, in 2007, anglers off the coastline of New Zealand snagged the biggest Humboldt squid ever seen. The squid was a true sea wonder that weighed 990 lbs and measured 33 ft long, and the squid reportedly took more than 2 hours to draw in and capture. The crew reported the sheer challenge of it all.

Are Humboldt Squid solitary beings?

Humboldt Squid is known to create schools, especially when they are in their juvenile phase; this is to bolster their collective defense. In some cases, mature individuals will be a part of shoal collectives that travel somewhat together. It can be concluded that they are a semi-solitary species.

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