Infographic in River Journey
Squid, cuttlefish, and octopus are a group of closely related animals called cephalopods that share some truly wild traits. In addition to having blue blood and three hearts, they also have two sneaky ways of escaping predators. When in danger, they send out a thick cloud of ink to confuse predators. This gives these animals a chance to make a quick escape by jetting away. They also all have chromatophores that allow them to change colors and patterns in their skin almost instantaneously. Squid live over sandy or muddy bottoms during the day and migrate to the surface at night. Squid have a short life span of only 6 months to a year and spawn once before they die.
Squid have been harvested commercially in the United States since the 1800s. They are available fresh year round. Although not as popular as a food item in the US, they are highly prized in countries such as Greece, Spain, China and Japan. There are three squid species commonly fished in U.S. waters:
1. Longfin Squid (Doryteuthis pealeii)
2. Market Squid (Loligo opalescens)
3. Shortfin Squid (Illex illecebrosus)
Squid are not considered threatened, but their growth and population status is sensitive to environmental conditions. Therefore, squid populations can fluctuate greatly from year to year. Squid are a good sustainable seafood choice because they grow quickly and reproduce early, which helps their population withstand fishing impacts. On the East Coast, they are fished with bottom trawls, which must have Turtle Exclusion Devices (TEDs) to allow sea turtles to escape. In addition, the sandy and muddy habitats where squid are found recover from the effects of bottom trawls more quickly than corals and rocky bottoms. On the West Coast, fishermen use lights to attract squid to the surface at night and encircle aggregations with purse seines.
About This Animal
SIZE: Adults are usually 1-1.6 feet in mantle length
RANGE: Shortfin and Longfin Squid are found along the Atlantic Coast from Newfoundland to the Gulf of Venezuela. Market Squid are found along the Pacific Coast from southeastern Alaska to Baja California, Mexico.
HABITAT: Squid eggs are attached to rocks and small boulders or aquatic vegetation on sandy or muddy bottoms. Larvae are found in surface waters. Juveniles also live in the upper water column in water 165 to 1,650 feet deep. Adults live over mud or sand/mud substrates of the continental shelf and upper continental slope in waters up to 1,300 feet deep.
DIET: Plankton, crustaceans, and small fish