Killed by Squid?

Talk about mixed messages. They are not dangerous but one will approach you while another attacks you from behind.
And speaking of the Clarke series, I seem to remember an interview with a survivor of the WWII incident who showed scars supposedly from a squid attack and hearing speculation that the bright red Mae West life jackets were to blame for attracting the squid.
The apocryphal incident I remember involved a man interviewed in England in the late 1950s who survived having his British vessel torpedoed by the German raider Santa Cruz off the East coast of South America in 1943. This man (now conveniently deceased) still had "raised ulcers" on his leg from the sucker cups that violently groped him after dragging his comrades down into the inky depths. This was retold in Frank W. Lane's "Kingdom of the Octopus" which I once purchased during a visit to Scripps Institute in 1981. Alas, this book has long since disappeared.

Somehow, like a lot of what I read - wide-eyed and impressionable - in Lane's book, this seems a little unlikely. Still, it was a great read when I was eleven.
Here's one for Greg:

Was there a German raider in the South Atlantic called Santa Cruz?
bigGdelta said:
...speculation that the bright red Mae West life jackets were to blame for attracting the squid.

I'm pretty sure that no cephalopod big enough to interact with a human is believed to have color vision, though... and red would look dark to most cephs anyway... (firefly squid photoreceptors peak respond at 484, 470, and 500 nm, while human red cones peak at 560-565nm, green cones at 535-540, and blue cones at 430-440, so the only cephs that can see color at all see it in the range between human green and human blue-- of course, I don't have a ref on the width of the freq response, but still...) I suppose, now that I think about it, since no one has ever seen messy eyes, no one's ever looked to see what photopigments they have, but it's unlikely that any squid not closely related to firefly squids will turn out to have color vision...
Great discussion, gang! Some excellent points were made (e.g., the fact that large cephs lack color perception, thus refuting the "red life jacket" incident).... though thankfully I don't think there will ever be an end to this fascinating controversy.

I am especially grateful to Clem-san for bringing up the Newfoundland incident as described in Dr. Ellis' book. One of my longtime pet peeves has been the general public's tendency to demonize large cephs as "dangerous" or "vicious" to humans. While I don't doubt the aggressive nature of Humboldts (though Dr. Gilly and others have experienced the more placid side of these critters), I get very annoyed with those who use cephs' natural survival mechanisms as an argument for their allegedly homicidal tendencies.

For example: In the Newfoundland anecdote, the "monster" of the story -- as Clem-san aptly points out -- was in reality a sick, dying animal, stranded on the surface (far from its familiar benthic environment), and undoubtedly in a state of pain or even panic. Imagine being in this vulnerable position, and then finding oneself senselessly attacked by a couple of small, aggressive, two-legged beings intent upon thrusting harpoons repeatedly into one's already agonized body. Wouldn't self-defense be the most natural -- in fact, the only rational -- reaction?

So, who were the real "monsters"?

I strongly suspect that if any other alleged Architeuthis "attacks" could be verified, further delving into the stories would uncover initial provocation (either deliberate or unintentional) by the human or humans involved.

I have also heard anecdotes about GPOs drowning divers by pulling off their masks and attached breathing apparatus. But marine biologists go on to explain that these drownings were in fact the tragic result of the GPOs' insatiable curiosity about unfamiliar objects, using the tactile input from their suckers to gain environmental information. Despite the occasionally lethal results of this behavior towards divers, it could hardly be classified as an "attack".

(I've noticed, in more than one nature show, that experienced divers gently but firmly guide cephs' arms away from their masks while being "frisked" by the critters)

I understand that in last year's renowned "first contact" film of an Archi, the big dude launches a head-on attack on the camera. But was it an attack, or just another example of rather heavy-handed but innocuous curiosity on the part of a ceph? And even if it were an attack, it was on a piece of machinery, not a human. I'd be interested in learning more about this.

As for aggression in Messies.... well, the jury's still out on that. Or is it? Inquiring minds want to know!

Looking forward to more on this thread,
Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that Humboldts are just naturally a very inquisitive squid, and love to investigate, and when something THAT big comes over to you and starts playing with your mask and tank, you begin to get nervous and do silly things that will inevitably agitate the animal. Obviously it's going to retaliate if you do soomething like hit out at it! There was a programme on over here last year (I missed it:cry: but was told lots about it!), in that they tested the animal by NOT doing anything threatening when it came over, and it was fine! It was only when the divers begin panicking that it shows agressive behaviour, like any animal really!

OK, the WWII squid story is certainly in the book Arthur C Clarke's Mysterious World. I have an old battered copy and will find the full quote later for you. It is, however, the only place I have seen the story.

Which suggests a great deal of 'itchy chin' as we say in British playgroundspeak.

Is this story of GPOs causing divers' deaths by pulling of the facemask substantiated anywhere? - it's the first I've heard of it, but I've read a lot of accounts of encounters between divers and GPOs.

Good evening all. I have found the section in Arthur C Clarke's Mysterious World (paperback, 1980 Fontana Press, London)

The Kraken
But men have seen such creatures, and indeed been devoured by them. The exigencies of the Second World War took ships to waters round the globe which are otherwise seldom frequented. Lieutenants Rolandson, Davidson RN and Lieutenant R E Grimani Cox of the Indian Army, were caught by a German raider flying the Japanese flag in a remote part of the South Atlantic. After firing on the ship til she caught fire, the raider gave all aboard five minutes to take to the boats. The three officers found themselves left with a small raft and nine companions, taking turns to cling to the raft or sit upon it.
They were faced with all the traditional nightmares of the ship-wrecked; a burning sun, a terrible thirst, attacks from Portuguese men-of-war, which Lieutenant Cox said 'stung like a million bees', and then, on the third day, the sharks appeared to pick off the wounded and those who had gone mad with thirst. After three more days, the sharks suddenly disappeared - not a relief but a prelude to the most appalling moment of all. Slowly, beside the raft, a gigantic shape appeared with huge tentacles. For some time it seemed to stand off and contemplate its strategy. Then, deliberately, it reached out onto the raft and grabbed one of the Indian survivors 'hugging him like a bear'. Cox and the others made a futile attempt to tear the tentacles away, Cox himself suffering several sucker wounds, but the creature slowly took the Indian away. Apparently one man sufficed, for Cox and the two navy officers, picked up by a Spanish ship, lived to tell the tale. (p106-107)

There are no references for the story given and a cursory google search brings up nothing, not even a reference to Mysterious World. This smells more of fish than squid to me.
It could have been Cthulhu?:biggrin2: :wink:

I think my dad might have had this book, but it disappeared a LONG time ago. I seem to rememebr that familiar French woodcut pitrure being in it, as well as possibly a photo of a large squid. If I rememebr it was about the normal novel sized, softback, not one of these large hardbacks you usually get on the unexplained. does this description sound valid?

Graeme said:
It could have been Cthulhu?:biggrin2: :wink:

I think my dad might have had this book, but it disappeared a LONG time ago. I seem to rememebr that familiar French woodcut pitrure being in it, as well as possibly a photo of a large squid. If I rememebr it was about the normal novel sized, softback, not one of these large hardbacks you usually get on the unexplained. does this description sound valid?


that sounds very valid. Add in a golden crystal skull with a shiny eye and stonehenge on the cover and yer laughing!

:lol: see?
CementPizza said:
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.



Although your friend has a right to question the reality of it, he is wrong.

I dont have the name of the fisherman that was killed but I do know that one was killed in Santa Rosalia.

But dont take my word for it....:roll:

The only way he will really know the reality of the situation is to see for himself, and I happen to know just the guy to take him there.

Me :goofysca:

This is the clip that I shot with my dive team leader Mr. Scott Cassell on a photo shoot for Outside Magazine. On one shot you will see a squid come in from about 25 feet at full speed with tentacles first in a point. He comes straight in and grabs Scotts fin. They are smart, a diver on SCUBA can go in and safely interact, however a fisherman who falls out of his boat at night is in trouble. Our best footage that we have on squid attack is going to be released in a DVD in March. The first showing will be at the meeting on March the 10th in San Francisco.

Yes I have personaly been grabbed, but not bitten by a Humboldt squid.

See it with your own eyes? Pay attention at 1:18sec.

If you would like more information on diving with giant humboldt squid than please check out our website.

You tell him that when he is done diving with me he will believe all of the stories.:bonk:

For those of you who want to dive with the squid and not get touched we have a special squid cage. I believe we are the only ones in the world who can take you to the world of the squid and then back alive.:bugout:

By the way, I am an avid aquarium person with a 125gal full reef. I see other octopuss all of the time. I am a full time guide to the Enchanted Islands in Baja CA

I never put them in my aquarium because they eat everything but the coral.

Hope you enjoy the clip, feel free to ask any questions.


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