Orange County News

Schools of jumbo squid crowd O.C. coastline

Monday, February 01, 2010

Hundreds of Humboldt squid have been caught along the Orange County coast recently, and fishermen say they may be ugly, but they sure are tasty.

Fishermen are still trying to figure out why these creatures have shown up off the California coastline, but they say it's certainly a sight to see.

At Dana Wharf Monday afternoon, a new batch of giant Humboldt squid were brought in. For dozens of fishermen, the presence of hundreds of these slimy, squirting predators means more business and a lot of fun.

"They're like giant squirt guns. People, as soon as they get up to the surface, if you're not careful you're going to take out everyone on the boat, especially your neighbors," described Corey Hall of Dana Wharf Sportfishing.

Hall and Mike Laust spent the last two nights catching hundreds of giant squid off Dana Point.

"They're extremely carnivorous. They eat everything, including themselves. So at times, you'll be catching one and the other one will start eating the other one," said Hall.

Each squid has 35,000 teeth on its tentacles, so fishermen have to be careful. The biggest threat is their ink, which they squirt to protect themselves.

Hall explained that the ink contains bacteria, and those who handle the squid wear rubber gloves to avoid contact with the substance.

Some scientists believe the overfishing of squid predators have allowed these Humboldt squid to thrive in California waters recently.

For Laust and his son, it's certainly keeping them busy during a normally slow time of year.

"It's fun for the kids. My 11-year-old daughter went out there and she caught eight of them herself last night, so it was a lot of fun," said Laust.

And most of the fishermen are either just giving the squid away or taking it home and eating them themselves.

In fact, if you want to eat them, the best thing to do is to soak them in a little bit of milk overnight, pound it flat and then you can fry it up and it tastes just like calamari, but it's a little chewier.

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