My own celebrations culminated today with a Humboldt squid dissection at the Monterey Maritime Musuem. It was (entirely coincidentally) the museum's First Annual Squid Day, part of Monterey's History Fest. Squid are an intimate part of the town's history, since market squid have at times been the biggest fishery in the bay (and in all of California). Sad to report, the local stock crashed several years ago, for reasons that are not entirely clear. Like other heavily fished squid, we know surprisingly little about California market squid. We don't even have one of the fishery management staples: a reasonable estimate of how many squid are out there, period. Although the squid (and the squid fishermen) returned this year, many scientists are still very worried about their future.
Humboldt squid, on the other hand, have been a more peripheral presence in Monterey's history, making brief, seasonal appearances then disappearing for years at a time. But since 2002, they've been in the Bay to stay. This was one of the reasons we did our Humboldt dissection today--the other reason being that they are just a way better show than a market squid. There's the order-of-magnitude size difference--sixty centimeters rather than six. There's the color-coded organs--reds, blues, and blacks instead of whitish and yellowish. There's the toothed sucker rings, the mantle-locking cartilages . . . I could go on.
And today, I did. At length. The crowd was fabulous, spanning ages six to sixty, at least. We all had a blast. Some of us even had a blast of squid eye juice! See, the six-year-olds were egging me on to "pop the eyeball!" so I did, and unfortunately, I . . . aimed it at a couple of six-year-olds. Fortunately, they proved resilient, and after a quick application of napkins, we were all eagerly inspecting the large translucent lens that had been revealed.
All told, it was an afternoon of wonder and delight! Major props to the squid vision of historian Tim Thomas and biologist Bill Gilly.
* Squidurday sounds like a really lame instance of Squid-a-Day. Like . . . squid-durrr-day. But, hey, it's better than Squidturday.