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Diving trip with Humboldt Squid lots of pics!

Discussion in 'General Scuba' started by gonetobaja, May 23, 2006.

  1. gonetobaja

    gonetobaja New Member

    Hello deeperblue!

    Here is a report on our latest trip to photograph the giant Humboldt squid in Baja CA.

    We arrived in Loreto, Baja CA in the late morning. We checked into our hotel. We are staying in a very nice 4 star resort called www.innatloretobay.com We have worked a deal out with them and are going to base all of our future dive trips from there. On the first day we where excited to get into some squid. We had the boat meet us in front of the hotel. We headed out to the deep water, about 200m. From there we set out to catch a squid.

    "I got one!!!"

    Said the fisherman we had hired. We take the fishermen from the local fishing fleet and hire them to catch and release squid. The fishermen dont work the night when we pay them for the day. We brought up the squid. It was a baby one. About 1/2 a meter or a little more. We took him off of the barbless jig and took some pictures of him before letting him go. After catching another one we decided to do a deep dive to see if we could get some free swimmers to come over to the camera.

    We hooked up our saftey cables and got on our armor. We had aprox 100 feet of steel cable. I got in to the water with my customer Ivo. He is a pro photographer from a great magazine in Germany called Mare.

    We started our decent. I kept my hand on my cable to slowly glide down to the depth. At 20 feet we hit a snowstorm of plankton. It made the vis go way down and the view kinda creepy. We drifted down through the plankton untill our cables went tight at 90 feet. The vis cleared up down here but below the plankton cloud the light was almost nothing. I stared down into the abyss of 200 meters. straining my eyes to pick up shapes from the deep I struggled with my emotions. Would a huge 2 meter squid come up and say hello? Ivo was in full armor (all customer have to wear it) and I had on my sleeves. At the bottom of my cable I looked down. The blackness was so complete that it pulled the light away from my eyes like a vacuume. In my pic you can see that the blackness of the deep is blacker than my black glove or computer band.

    We drifted in the nothing for a while snapping pics of each other and watching each others back. After the tanks drained down we where forced to come back to the air, away from the nothing that made your imagination run full speed.

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    That night Ivo told me that even thought he had dove with tigers and whites that the deep dived over the abyss still got his mind racing.
    Last edited: May 23, 2006
    Amphibious likes this.
  2. gonetobaja

    gonetobaja New Member

    Here is a pic of my computer and the blackness of the abyss.....[​IMG][/IMG]
  3. gonetobaja

    gonetobaja New Member

    We dove the area of Loreto for two days. On the third day we decided to head north to check into stories of bigger squid being caught by fishermen in Santa Rosalia. We headed into town and down to the main squid processing area. The smell of a small harbor that processes thousands of pounds of squid every night is very bad. The scales that sit freshly washed are testement to the massive harvesting that happens here every day. We hired two fishermen from the fleet. They where happy to take us out, they knew us from all of the other trips and still think we are crazy but are happy to take the money and not work the night. We headed out and geared up. Hopefully we see some big ones.
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    Scott , Ivo, and me getting ready to dive.
  4. gonetobaja

    gonetobaja New Member

    My job on this dive is to protect the back of the photographer from any attacks while he is shooting. Its not as fun as handling the squid and presenting them for a photo shot but still pretty important for customer state of mind.

    When my customer turns around he sees me instead of a squid.

    [​IMG][/IMG]
  5. gonetobaja

    gonetobaja New Member

    At the end of our cables we had not long to wait. Suspended at only 40 feet we waited for the fishermen to start the work.

    Then it happend.....as the first animals came up from the abyss their bothers and sisters followed. the action started and Ivo started snapping pics like a madman.

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    the squid where here!!
  6. gonetobaja

    gonetobaja New Member

    As the first of the big squid came up on the fishermens line on our barbless jigs, Scott our team leader removed one of the big ones from the line. Wearing armor on his arms and chain mail gloves for protection from bites we cover our hands with soft cotton gloves to prevent damage to the delicate skin of the Humboldt squid. Scott offered up some great photo ops and some closeups for the magazine shoot.

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    After unhooking the squid and taking some shots we released the beautifull dweller of the deep. They swim slowly around us for a few seconds before gliding away into the depths.

    They are scared when they come up one the hook but when we take them off they seem to calm down. They are smart, and sensing that we are not going to harm them by our gentle handling they dont freak out and stay pretty calm during the photo shoot.
  7. gonetobaja

    gonetobaja New Member

    My favorite shots are the free swimming squid. Here are some shots of the squid that I got for the few seconds they where around us. Seening one of these animals in the water is truly awe inspiring. They move so gracefully yet are so powerfull at the same time. Even the big sharks stay clear of the big ones.
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    Please excuse the out of foucs pics but between watching my customer and my own back as well these where all I could get.
    Pocoshower likes this.
  8. gonetobaja

    gonetobaja New Member

    And so ends another trip diving with the Humboldt squid. Business has been picking up and with our new deal with the Inn at Loreto Bay, we now have a top quality base of operation.

    How does the saying go?

    "Another rought day at the office."


    [​IMG][/IMG]

    See ya at the bottom,

    GTB
    www.gonetobaja.com
    www.sea-wolves.com
    Adrian and island_sands like this.
  9. Chefkoch

    Chefkoch New Member

    Nice stuff there man! I was watching a documentary on humboldt squid last week, and i was heavily impressed. Never thought a cephalopod could swim so gracefully, yet fast, and be able to attack like they did in that movie. They showed some older footage where one of'em went for a diver, swimming in curves, making it almost impossible to foresee where it would attack; all of a sudden it was right in front of this guy, opening up its tentacles and clinging to him; kinda gives you the creeps.

    How often did you encounter them? Did you also meet them near fishing boats using barbed jigs? Have they ever been aggressive towards you/your buddy? Do you have the impression that you can foresee/understand their actions? They seem pretty mysterious to me. What about the red/white colour change? Is it a sign of aggression/fear?

    I can imagine a spearo able to shoot and retrieve a big humboldt (like they do with tuna etc) would need huge balls of steel, lol.
  10. gonetobaja

    gonetobaja New Member

    Our team has done work on several documentarys. The deal we have is that is is easier to make a living as a guide than a filmmaker. When we are between shoots we take customers out.

    We have a pretty good record of sightings. Pretty much every time we go out we see squid. The size is what varries. We go out when the fishermen are on shore. The fishermen go out at night because the squid stay fresh in the boat all night and the wives of the fishermen work in the factory all day processing animals.

    The animals can act aggressive towards divers, thats why the saftey cables and armor. We have dove with the squid many times and we are starting to get a small understanding of the way they act. Although I would never say that I could predict the way the squid will act, I can say that we have noticed that when there are more than two divers in the water the attacks are far less. Diving alone with them is foolhardy and you will get attacked for sure. The more people in the water the more the squid seem to say "looks like theres more than one, I better hang back and just observe" But when you dive alone with them they say "look at that thing, all alone, I wonder how it opens up..."

    As far as the red and white flashing, there are some theroys. Mine is that the color is their emotions flashing. When they are scared, angry, hungry etc. the flashing happens automaticly. The other squid read the flashings and make decisions from that. White seems to be happy, red seems to be fear or anger. Also they use the colors for camoflouge. You see them in the distance then they dissapear then are right in front of you. Its really amazing.

    As far as freedive spearfishing one, they are illegal to shoot in mexico as they are considered a marisco not a fish. Only fish can be taken in mexico by tourists. That being said, the squid are very canabilistic. It a buddy was on a spear they would attack it and rip him to shreds. When they where done with him they would go after the spearo. The bite is not as worrisome as the squid dragging you down. thats why we wear steel cables even on scuba.

    Bottom line......I wouldnt try it.

    Its freaky enough being in the water with them with SCUBA, armor and a steel saftey cable I imagine that a spearo with balls that big would have trouble walking.......:confused:

    besides there are safer ways to have a calimari fillet:crutch

    GTB
    trux likes this.
  11. AlexF

    AlexF New Member

    WOW those are incredible photos. I have fished for squids and thought that they only came up at night and spent the day in the deep.

    Last year I investigated what one squid had been eating and found no fish, but only squid pieces. While fishing for squid a pufferfish (the one with spines all over) came by and was attacked by the squid, it inflated itself and was left by the squid, but every time it deflated, it was attacked again.
  12. jimqpublic

    jimqpublic Still Dry Behind the Ears

    Wow! Those are amazing. I think I'll stick to the shallow water though.

    We spent a few hours in Santa Rosalia twice in March. Neat town. Great fish tacos and interesting people watching- much different than most of Baja.

    Jim
  13. Pocoshower

    Pocoshower happy when diving

    VERY NICE pictures Dale

    I was driving south last saturday from Lagna Manuela to Santa Rosalía, I think I saw you at Paralelo 28 (at the state line).

    Nice job with the Calamares

    Carlos
  14. gonetobaja

    gonetobaja New Member

    Yea, that was me alright. I was heading north that day. the night before we hit a cow just south of Santa Rosalia. that road is major dangerous IMO. We made San Diego that day.

    Just met with the Photographer Ivo. He stayed some more days and spent a night on a panga with some of the fishermen when they where in full scale operation. He got some pics of that might make it to the magazine of the actual fishing operation.

    We are going to start a tag and relase program with the animals to further the research on the species. That way we can try and track the animals we are catching and releasing on the trips.
  15. Pocoshower

    Pocoshower happy when diving

    There are two cows and one deer marks in my truck, after 10 years around...

    Great timing you had, a good NW started blowing monday nigth and still blowing but not very hard.

    Saludos

    Carlos
  16. Oldsarge

    Oldsarge Deeper Blue Budget Bwana Staff Member Forum Mentor

    Thanx, but I'll take my squid at the Baja Mar with cilantro pesto! I've got no desire to get scuba qualified and even if I did I still think you and Scott are nuts. Loveable, perhaps, but definitely nuts. Great pix, though . . .

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