Market squid up close and personal

Market squid up close

Market squid or Loligo opalescence average about 12 inches in length as adults. Twelve is also the maximum number of months they typically live, sometimes even as few as nine months. Why so short? Only mother nature knows the answer to that question.

Like most cephalopods, market squid are terminal spawners, this means they die after mating. Their life is a rushed series of events beginning as an egg, hatching into a paralarva, becoming a juvenile, then becoming an adult, mating, laying eggs then dying. And that pretty much sums up the life of a market squid.

Market squid can be found within 200 miles of the coast from Baja Mexico all the way to Alaska. And of course they are fished, what isn’t? It turns out that the market squid fishery is the largest fishery in California. Who knew?

But enough cold facts, it’s time to dive into the more personal side of a market squid’s intimate times. Males and females entwine their arms (the things hanging from their bodies) and the male places a sperm packet (spermatophore) into the female. (Does this sound familiar, remember my favorite California spiny lobster?) Based on what I observed on the boat, when the arms where intertwined they turned red.

But the details on what happens next are a bit fuzzy. Somehow the female fertilizes the eggs with the sperm in the sperm packet, but I haven’t found a description of the mechanics. So we must skip to when the female groups the fertilized eggs into a tube-like sheath and then places the tube filled with the next generation into the sand. The tubes are a milky white color and about the size and shape of an abnormally large finger.

Hundreds of female squid stick egg capsules to the ocean floor with an adhesive type of substance. Grouped together these egg capsules cover vast areas on the ocean floor, which reminds me of the movie Alien. It takes three to five weeks for the eggs to hatch and then the cycle starts all over again.

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