Experts disagree on species of large squid found on Maui shore

Local News

A Maui man made an unusual discovery Sunday morning while walking along the shore near the north end of Charlie Young Beach in Kihei.

Jeffrey King, owner of Big Kahuna Adventures, came upon a squid about four feet in length washed up on the shore. “I have never seen a squid this big,” he said. “It was dead when I found it, but not dead for long.”

When he picked it up, he said “it weighed about 18-20 pounds. Its stomach was full of sand (and) the beak and eyeballs were the size of a golf ball.” King said that, looking at its eyes, it still looked fresh, and there were no fishing hooks in it or bite marks. The squid also still had ink in it.

“It looked beautiful, so purple-ish,” he said.

After doing some research, King said he believes it was a Humboldt squid, a predator known to frequent the eastern Pacific Ocean area. It has a reputation of being aggressive towards humans and is usually found in depths between 660 to 2,300 feet.

Dr. Andrew Rossiter, director of the Waikiki Aquarium, agrees with King.

“Over the past 10, 15 years, (Humboldt squid) started migrating up the West Coast of the United States and they go up now, they’ve been recorded as far north as Alaska,” he told KHON2.

As for its cause of death, Rossiter said, “It looked very fresh. I couldn’t see any bite marks on it, so it probably wasn’t predation. The guess at the moment is maybe it ate some fish that had ciguatera or some other toxin in it and that may have knocked it over.”

Squid specialists contacted on the mainland, however, think that this is instead a neon flying squid that occurs around Hawaii.

Unfortunately, it will be impossible to know for sure. Rossiter says experts would need to examine the animal and its tentacles in person to make a positive identification.

But King already turned his find into bait. He cut off the tentacles to get “a big filet out of the mantle. I then put it back in a tidal pool to feed all of the other smaller fish and scavengers.”

Photo courtesy Jeffrey King

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