When Jon Schwartz and his buddy Josh Pruitt went kayaking off La Jolla, Calfornia one day, they happened upon this surprising shoal of squid. It massed around Josh’s kayak, and the men were curious – why were the squid apparently fascinated with the kayak? What happened next was one of those rare encounters some lucky people have with ocean creatures – in Jon’s words:
“When I finally got in, I realized why: big fish were below the shoal, forcing them to flee to the surface, and at the same time, mackerel were attacking from the side, and birds were dive bombing them from above! These squid were under siege and were using any protection they could get, and Josh’s kayak was the best they could find.”
He didn’t know if they’d disperse as he neared them:
“Incredibly, when I surfaced for air and swam towards them, they swam right to me!! They looked otherworldly, and I could see and feel hundreds of eyes trained on me. I felt as if I was being approached by a group of intelligent beings rather than fish; something about the way they moved and pulsed rhythmically made me feel connected to them.”
And then he had that uh-oh moment:
“They were using me as a source of protection! Was this a good thing? Had I been in Hawaii, where I do a lot of underwater photography with marlin, sailfish, and tuna, I would have been terrified, because being surrounded by prey would have made me a target, but I figured that with there being no huge predators feeding on the squid (other than sea lions and maybe the occasional smaller shark), I felt relatively safe. “
Photo courtesy Jon Schwartz – a big mahalo to him for sharing this incredible experience with us.