Humboldt Squid continued to invade Southern California beaches last week, giving anglers a unique fishing experience.
The beaches were excellent playgrounds for expert marine photographer Jon Schwartz who documented the experience.
The swim wasn't a safe one for Schwartz, as Humboldt or jumbo squid has razor-sharp tentacle claws and a parrot-like beak. They have a frenzied behavior, can be cannibalistic, and have reportedly attacked divers off Mexico, according to Outdoor.
On Saturday, Schwartz drove to Newport to try free diving with the Humboldt Squid.
I wondered if it was a good idea to get in the water with them at night, Schwartz wrote on his blog detailing the swim. I've seen videos of them attacking divers, and in fact have spent a lot of time over the past decade seeking out every last bit of information about people that dive with Humboldts. The encounters are fascinating.
He called up several experts regarding the matter and decided to give the dangerous swim a try.
It turns out that this particular population of Humboldts was just the right size for me to investigate without having to worry about getting dragged down, body slammed, or chewed on. Actually they might chew on me a little bit, he wrote.
According to Schwartz, the squids off Newport are about 2 to 3 feet long. The biggest ones can grow to 6 feet long and weight more than 100 pounds, he said, adding that Colossal Squid can get as big as a school bus. But those types of squids spend their time in the deep ocean.
Outdoor reported that a weak El Nino between 2009 and 2010 might have spurred the recent squid invasion. In past episodes, the squid have shown as far north as British Columbia.
There were some that were flashing below me that fell in love with my strobe and they were really wild, Schwartz said, according to Outdoor. They sit there and stare at you with tentacles pitched forward in a kind of arrow.
See Schwartz's swim with the squid and some of his amazing underwater photography in the slideshow ahead.
You can also check out more of Schwartz's underwater journey on his blog.