Did you know opalescent squid are the most common squid off Oregon’s coast?
Throughout the spring and early summer, ocean upwelling will displace squid eggs that will be swept into the water column and washed in with the tides.
These seasonal upwellings caused by an influx of cold, nutrient rich water often displace eggs, animals and other debris from the sandy ocean floor during spring and fall months.
Keep an eye out for the small gelatinous tubes that can be found on the beach as a single capsule or glued together in a large clump. Once on the shore, the eggs quickly dry up and are no longer viable.
As viable eggs develop along the sandy ocean floor, the baby squid will be moving and flashing their chromatophores while still in the egg. Chromatophores (color-changing cells) are a unique way for the squid to camouflage. The color of opalescent squid can range from a bluish white, mottled brown and gold, or dark red when feeding.
Once hatched, the squid will emerge the size of a grain of rice and grow to nearly a foot in length as a fully mature adult. As small hatchlings, the squid quickly learn to hunt and eat planktonic critters such as copepods.
At 2 months old, they are strong enough to begin swimming in schools and hunting prey such as fish, shrimp, mollusks and other juvenile squid. If they survive six months they are considered adults and begin to spawn into aggregations of millions of squid to reproduce and lay egg beds in large swaths that can cover acres of ocean floor.
Each female will insert up to 12 egg capsules into the sand, where eggs will be ventilated by ocean surges. Each encapsulated sheath holds 180-300 eggs! Eggs will hatch in three to eight weeks, shorter incubation is a result of warmer ambient water temperatures.
Shortly after spawning adult squid will die to complete their six-to-nine month lifecycle. Opalescent squid are found from Baja California to Alaska and up to 200 miles offshore. They move vertically throughout the water column from a depth of 1/3 mile to the ocean surface to hunt and serve as a plentiful food source for larger fish, sharks, marine mammals, sea birds and humans.