Killed by Squid?


Mar 14, 2005
Hello everyone. I am having an argument with a friend of mine. He says there is no evidence of anyone ever being killed by a squid. He refuses to put any credibility of the storys I found about a WWII ship that was sunk and it's survivors were attacked by squid an possibly one was killed. He also doesn't accept that the Mexican fishermen are ever attacked and killed by Humboldts.

He challenged me to find the name of ONE person killed by a squid. I haven't found one yet. Can any of you all help get the name of ONE person killed by a squid.

I'm not too sure about killings but there is a video somewhere of a humoldt attacking a diver whose name seems to have slipped my mind at the moment.

:welcome: to!!
Hello CementPizza,


There are no authenticated reports of any fatal attacks on people committed by squid. In the 1991 movie "Mission of the Shark," about the 1945 sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, the film's creators made the wholly unsupported claim that Navy crewmen were attacked by squid. There was also a documentary about sea monsters, hosted by Arthur C. Clarke, in which the late Dr. Frederick Alldrich made the (again) wholly unsupported claim that survivors of a transport sunk off the coast of Newfoundland had been attacked by giant squid. Peter Benchley told a similar tale in his squid novel "Beast," but, again, there's no proof that anything of the sort ever happened.

Dosidicus gigas, the "jumbo squid," is a very aggressive animal, and several of them grabbed an underwater cameraman some years ago during a night dive off Baja. (Joel, I think it was Alex Kerstitch...not sure about the spelling of his last name) Mexican fishermen who ply those waters are justly worried about falling into the water with them, but there haven't been any authenticated maulings or fatalities. Put simply: if it ain't on film or in the science journals, it's purely anecdotal.

There is a famous tale of a giant squid, Architeuthis dux, that "attacked" a small boat off Newfoundland in 1873/74. The occupants had approached the (presumably) unhealthy animal while it floated on the surface, poked it, and were surprised to find it still alive, whereupon it grabbed the vessel and struck the gunwhale with its beak. One of the occupants chopped off a tentacle, which served as proof of the encounter. For a full account of the incident and its various retellings, you and your friend might check out "The Search for the Giant Squid," by Richard Ellis (available in paperback from Penguin books).

It's possible that a big squid could kill a human. A few species are big and aggressive enough to pull it off, but they would not have many occasions on which to do so. The current and unusual presence of large numbers of aggressive jumbo squid off the western coast of the U.S. does make me wonder if a surfer might not get nipped in the near future, but that's just my own bloody-minded fantasy.

Thanks for posting. There's a ton of information here about these animals. Hope you find much of interest.


What about those Korean(?) dudes that were killed by the noxious fumes released by rotting squid? Does that count? Did that even happen, or is it finally time to stop mixing codeine and tequila?
um... said:
What about those Korean(?) dudes that were killed by the noxious fumes released by rotting squid? Does that count? Did that even happen, or is it finally time to stop mixing codeine and tequila?

Aha, good on you for remembering that story. Maybe that does count. There ought to be a link to that news item somewhere around here.

:chillpil: + :beer: = :canada:
The diver attacked by Humbolts was on Incredible Suckers, his name was, Devreis.......something (sorry I can't remember) he was (& I assume still is!) an underwater photographer and filmmaker.

Haven't heard of anyone actually being killed by a squid tho'.


Gaetan P. said:
i thougt the survivors of the uss indy were attacked by sharks?
Hello Gaetan,

Right you are. That event has been a case study for shark attack researchers for decades. Until "Mission of the Shark," I'd never heard anything about squid attacking the survivors. Hmmm. Perhaps I should run some searches for Indianapolis crew and memorial sites to see if any of the men who were aboard ever mentioned squid attacks subsequent to the torpedoeing.

Jean, I found a description of the Humboldt mugging written by one of the other crew on that trip. Chock full of incident. Click here to read Howard Hall's account. The fellow mugged by three squid was Alex Kerstitch. Sadly, he's passed away.

CementPizza, where did you hear/read/see the story about squid grabbing shipwrecked sailors?



The proper spelling is Mike DeGruy. I just saw him at the Clyde Roper lecture at the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum last month. He was the underwater photographer who filmed Incredible Suckers. I had to go check out Nature on Google to get the spelling right - I wasn't sure either.

Incidentally, did anybody see the special where Clyde Roper went down in the Sea of Cortez in a shark cage after they had baited the water to attract Humboldts? One of them - about 25-30 inches long, if I recall - actually managed to get in the cage with him. Clyde swam to the top of the cage, while the increasingly upset Humboldt explored the bottom, trying to find a way out. Finally, after spotting the way it came in, it managed to exit, but not before darting over to bite Clyde on the leg, almost as an afterthought. When Clyde surfaced, he was ecstatic, like someone who has just had a religious experience. This squid did not seem to bite him out of anything more than annoyance. I've heard the legends about man-killing Humboldts for years, but yes, it appears to all be anecdotal. Maybe an experiment could be done in this area... hmmm... maybe they could be trained... :madsci: :sink:

myopsida said:
You won't find any ...just as you won't find any names of the people dolphins push out to sea . . . . .



I found a discussion forum for "In Harm's Way," Doug Stanton's book about the Indianapolis disaster. The squid issue came up there, and Stanton's assistant weighed in. Click here to see the initial query and the replies. Some of the respondents mention some apocryphal squid attacks. Material for more sleuthing, anyhow.



Ok. Now are you saying that it doesn't happen? Or that it does happen and we just don't have the names?

I know these things would be inconsistant and unusual.
Oh, I also want to say thanks to everyone so far. I love squids. Before I was in kindergarten I used to talk my mom in to buying them for me at the grocery store so I could disect them. (They were dead, they were in the sea-food section). I have always had and interest, but alas, I never became a squid professional. Hahaha.

Nice to meet everyone.

No one ever has proof of the attacks because no one lives to tell the tale.


But really, I heard recently some man was attacked by three of them... something on Discovery channel, but I can't find any info about it now.

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