Jumbo flying squid attack scuba divers in San Diego

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Posted by Chum on February 03, 2010 at 04:51:23:


Jumbo flying squid with razor-sharp beaks and toothed tentacles have invaded shallow waters off San Diego, attacking scuba divers near tourist beaches.

The aggressive 5ft-long sea creatures, which can weigh more than seven stone (45 kilograms), arrived off the city's shores last week.

Divers have reported being attacked by the Humboldt squid, with tentacles enveloping their masks and pulling at their cameras and gear.

The squid are more commonly found in the deep waters off Mexico, where they have been known to attack humans and are nicknamed "red devils" for their rust-red colouring and aggressive streak.

Those who dive with them there fill the water with bait and sometimes get in a metal cage or wear chain mail to avoid being lashed by tentacles. The squid hunt in schools of up to 1,200, can swim up to 15mph and skim over the water to escape predators.

The creatures stay too deep to bother swimmers and surfers, but many longtime divers in San Diego have said they will stay out of the surf until the sea creatures clear out.

Mike Bear, a local diver, said: "I wouldn't go into the water with them for the same reason I wouldn't walk into a pride of lions on the Serengeti, For all I know, I'm missing the experience of a lifetime."

Shanda Magill was surprised by a large squid which hit her from behind and grabbed at her with its arms, pulling her sideways in the water. It ripped her buoyancy hose away from her chest and knocked away her light.

"I just kicked like crazy. The first thing you think of is, 'Oh my gosh, I don't know if I'm going to survive this'. If that squid wanted to hurt me, it would have," she said.

Scientists are not sure why the squid have started appearing in the water off the Southern California coast and say they are concerned.

One theory is that their prey has moved to shallow waters due to changes in sea temperatures and the squid have followed. One biologist estimated there could be hundreds, or possibly thousands.

My theory is that most of their natural predators have been killed.

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