Squid Surprise

A big red ball of something was pulsing on the surface of the water. Jon Schwartz, out on a fishing excursion with his friend in La Jolla, California last month, wondered what it was and if he could slide into the water and snap a few photos before it disappeared. An elementary school teacher who takes underwater photographs, Schwartz dived into the ocean with his snorkel gear and underwater camera. What did he see? A huge swarm of squid. And he got some beautiful photos of the rare sight.

La Jolla, located in Southern California, is known for its plentiful and diverse marine life. Protected by the Ecological Reserve and the Marine Life Refuge, the area is a hotspot for snorkelers and scuba divers, and any fish that are caught have to be thrown back in. That day, Schwartz and his friend embarked from La Jolla Shores and were a short kayak trip off the coast. They were looking for yellowtail and white sea bass, and neither was expecting to see squid. “It was a real fluke,” says Schwartz. “It wasn’t something I was going out for.” The squid usually stay down in the depths and only a few swim around the surface. But, here, he stumbled upon hundreds.

The swarm, or shoal, of squid were swirling around one another right next to his friend’s kayak. They were huddling around the boat because they were under siege. Some large fish were coming at them from below, mackerel were attacking from the sides, and birds were dive-bombing them from above. When Schwartz dove in, they also started flocking to him: “They swam at me and I was surrounded by them. They were five inches from my mask and I thought ‘This is uncanny, they’re using me as shelter.’ ”

Meanwhile, he was snapping away with his camera.

(Squid in La Jolla, CA. Courtesy of Jon Schwartz)

Schwartz began his day looking for adventure, but an unexpected encounter made it that much more adventurous. Makes you want to get out your kayak, or camera, or just get out.

Click here for more on Jon's encounter.

Also read:
Florida Fishermen Catch 25-Foot-Long Giant Squid
Here There Be Monsters: The Legendary Kraken and the Giant Squid (A book review)

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