Strange things are happening at sea.
We’re seeing a continued robust crab catch while giant squid are beaching themselves and the first few grey whales are migrating through Monterey Bay.
The crazy news started on the south side of the bay, as giant squid were found along the beach in Carmel Bay. The reports started to arise here in Santa Cruz as giant squid were washed into the tidal area of surf spots like Steamer Lane and Pleasure Point.
During the low tide, surfers were spotted carrying giant squid up the cliffs asking, “How do I cook this thing?”
Along with beached squid comes speculation as to why they’re stranding themselves on the beach.
I believe the squid are normally in deeper waters near the canyon edges in 1,200 feet of water and adapt their migration based on deep water sea contours. This year, they are feeding in shallow water targeting their cousin — market squid — as a food source. The shallow water and frenzied pursuit of food drives them to become disorientated and finds them in the surf zone and washed ashore.
They are great for interest or dissection, but I would not recommend them for a food source if found dead. If they are alive and you want to take the time, they are edible and can taste quite good if properly prepared.
Crab fishing remains good for sport crab fishermen in part because of the lack of commercial fishing pressure. The commercial season has been good, but the market dropped due to excess crabs and the anticipation of a Northern California and Oregon crab opener that could happen Saturday, Dec. 15.
In response to a price drop, crab fishermen in Bodega Bay, San Francisco Bay and Half Moon Bay have gone on strike. And the glut of crab could fill markets and lower the price further.
Meanwhile, Santa Cruz crab fishermen continue with their trade and sell crabs off the docks and to local live crab buyers, and sport crab fishermen can take advantage of more crabs and less commercial fishing pressure.
Whale watchers saw the first few grey whales off the bluffs at Davenport. Local charter companies like Stagnaro’s started running trips to watch grey whales and have seen them along with orcas.
In other news, rock fish and ling cod season closes at the end of the month. I hope you can get out for rock fish, crabs or to see a whale during the holidays.
- Mike Baxter has fished in the Monterey Bay Area since he was a boy and has been a licensed charter boat captain for more than 20 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.