We literally rolled off the boat into a winter wonderland of white…..squid eggs that is on our dives last weekend. We are taking acres of white egg capsules of Loligo opalescens otherwise known as the California Market squid or to some of you, only known as calamari on your plate. The fantastic 40’-80’ visibility we were treated to, a rare occurrence in this area, allowed us to see the large extent of these beds located off the Point Loma peninsula in the San Diego California area.
Our first clue as to what we were going to encounter were the multiple rafts of cormorants lazily bobbing on the surface and the multiple groups of round floating objects, otherwise known as California sea lions, flippers up, soaking up the warmth of the morning sun on the surface. We were barely acknowledged as intruders in their space as we anchored the boat. The reason for all this lounging and sunning was surely the squid feast they all had the night before.
Squid mating runs are not uncommon in the San Diego area year round, but they are by far the most intense every year in late November through January where literally millions of squid mate and lay eggs night after night triggered by some combination of tides, length of daylight hours and water temperature. When morning dawns the results of the night of frantic interludes come into view as carpets of white egg tubes swaying in the surge along with dead and dying squid which litter the sea floor and reef everywhere. The cast of below the surface locals looking for an easy meal of dead squid from nudibranchs to angel sharks are also to be found.
My first “getting reacquainted with cold water diving” 6 years ago after a 15 year absence was a squid run dive on a cold rainy January night. Thoughts of I must be out of my mind as I submerged into the inky black water, just as the drizzle turned into real rain, quickly evaporated 10 minutes into the dive when we became engulfed in squid. It is difficult to describe what it is like to be surrounded by a swirling masse of frenzied mating squid so thick you can barely see the light of your buddy who may only be a few feet from you. One description might be “it felt like I was floating in a sea of squid” and that is literally what it nearly is as squid seem to replace every inch of the water that once surrounded you.
We are fortunate that our most popular shore diving area known as La Jolla Shores, lies right at the edge of a deep water canyon the squid surge up from at night during these runs. We are thus able to witness this phenomenon at beginner diving depths that allow for plenty of bottom time to capture the action with your camera. Your dive lights and your camera lights attract the squid and you will find the biggest problem is literally squid sticking on or blocking your lens, focus light and video lights as you are trying to get shots of mating pairs. Having a light weight camera together with a light weight frame and arms like those produced by Beneath The Surface helps you keep moving just enough to keep the squid off your rig and get your shots.
Make every effort you can to get out and experience this bucket list dive!