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Robust Clubhook Squid: Freaky Fish of Washington, Oregon Coast

Published 06/06/2020 at 4:24 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Robust Clubhook Squid: Freaky Fish of Washington, Oregon Coast

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(Seaside, Oregon) – They are a rare occurrence along the Oregon and Washington coast, at least onshore. Not a lot is certain about their population, except that the robust clubhook squid (Onykia robusta) is found in deeper waters (usually warmer areas) along the Pacific, from around Alaska down to California and over to Japan. Whatever the case, they’re a tad Jules Verne and a freaky, fun find along the shoreline for scientists and experts. (Above: photo courtesy Allysa Casteel Seaside Aquarium).

Along the Washington coast there seems to be a little more documentation on them and certainly more frequency, with the Seattle Aquarium noting they’d actually been found quite a few times deeper in the Puget Sound over the years, sometimes near the aquarium. The Seattle facility had numerous finds around the Washington coast – including the waters of Tacoma – going back to the ‘60s.

In Oregon, there have only been a couple of sightings, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t strand here before. There were two documented by Seaside Aquarium back in 2018: the first in Cannon Beach and the second at Neskowin.

The robust clubhook squid is the third largest of the squids and sometimes mistaken for Humboldt Squid, which have had their odd runs up and down Washington and Oregon’s coastlines. They’re distinguishable by two rows of sharp hooks on its tentacles. You can also tell by the length of its fins, the ridges along its body and its size.

This type of squid has led a slightly confusing existence in the annals of science. It was in recent years reclassified and given a different scientific name, formerly known as Moroteuthis robusta. It is known as an important prey in the diet of sperm whales.

Those found on the Oregon coast were about ten feet in total length, according to Seaside Aquarium at the time. But they can get to about 12 feet.

“The two larger species are the colossal squid and the giant squid, both of which exceed lengths of 30 feet,” said Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium.

Back in 2018, the squid discovered at Cannon Beach and Neskowin were a total surprise and made a media stir.

“It’s the first I’ve ever seen,” said Seaside Aquarium manager Keith Chandler back then.

In Washington, the Seattle Aquarium reports one was brought into the Pike’s Place Market when it was found.

Interestingly, inside the Seaside Aquarium there is a preserved body of just such a squid on display, one that washed up near Seattle long ago. That one is nine feet, however. The aquarium has had it on loan from the Seattle Aquarium for about 20 years.

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Photo above by Seaside Aquarium. Photo below at Neskowin, courtesy Debi Tribe

Photo below of a Humboldt Squid near Depoe Bay courtesy Whale's Tail Charter

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