A Humboldt squid swims through the dark waters of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, off the coast of northern California. Humboldt squid, which grow up to two meters (six feet), are one of the top predators in the Cordell Bank marine ecosystem.

Photograph by Rick Starr, courtesy NOAA/CBNMS

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    • Humboldt squid are large predators native to the deep waters of the Humboldt current, which flows northwest from Tierra del Fuego to the northern coast of Peru. The species range of the Humboldt squid, however, has expanded as far north as the U.S. state of Alaska.
    • Both the Humboldt squid and the Humboldt current are named after Alexander von Humboldt, a German geographer who explored Central and South America in the 18th and 19th centuries.
    • Humboldt squid are also known as jumbo squid, flying squid, and diablos rojos or red devils.
    • Humboldt squid earned the nickname "red devils" due to their aggressive nature and ability to light themselves up (bioluminescence) in flashes of red and white.
    • Humboldt squid earned the nickname "jumbo squid" by their sheer size. They grow up to 2 meters (6 feet) and weigh as much as 50 kilograms (110 pounds.) Jumbo squid are not the largest squid, however. Giant squid grow up to 13 meters (43 feet) and weigh as much as 275 kilograms (610 pounds). Colossal squid grow up to 14 meters (46 feet) and weigh as much as 495 kilograms (1,091 pounds).
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    aggressive Adjective

    forceful or offensive.

    Alexander von Humboldt Noun

    (1769-1859) German geographer and naturalist.

    bioluminescence Noun

    light emitted by living things through chemical reactions in their bodies.

    Encyclopedic Entry: bioluminescence
    geographer Noun

    person who studies places and the relationships between people and their environments.

    Humboldt Current Noun

    cold current that flows along the western coast of South America.

    Humboldt squid Noun

    large marine animal (cephalopod) that lives in the deep Pacific Ocean.

    predator Noun

    animal that hunts other animals for food.

    species range Noun

    native, geographic area in which an organism can be found. Range also refers to the geographic distribution of a particular species.

    Encyclopedic Entry: species range
    Tierra del Fuego Noun

    group of islands at the southern tip of South America.