Facing the Red Demon
Anti-squid armor on? Check! Blue-water diving tether properly attached? Check! It’s time to meet the Red Demon squid of Mexico. You’ve spent several hours in “Squid School,” training for your first encounter with the giant Humboldt squid, but you’re still a bit nervous. You know these creatures grow up to 1.5m (5 ft.) long, weigh 32kg (70 lb.) or much more, have big suckers on their tentacles for grabbing their prey, and a parrot beak for ripping flesh. There’s always the chance that a squid could wrap a tentacle around your leg and try to pull you downward. Fortunately, you’re only going down to a maximum depth of 12m (40 ft.) and you’re tethered to your boat at the surface, so you can be quickly pulled up should one of gangly beasts grab on.
These super predators travel in packs called shoals that range from tens to hundreds. They’ve come from depths around 150m (500 ft.) up toward the surface to feed. The pangas (local squid fisherman) have put bait in the water to attract these predators.
You’re escorted down to a 12m (40-ft.) depth in the Sea of Cortez by one of the expert divers; there you start to watch the dance. Because of the underwater bioluminescence, colors flash as the giant squid swirl around. You see red, yellow, white, and even black. Watch the squid stalk prey, feed, and interact with each other—it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before. If you feel relaxed enough, now’s the time to start shooting underwater photos or filming.
Shark Diver has teamed with legendary giant squid expert Scott Cassel and C Wolf Expeditions, who have studied, documented, and dived with giant squid for years. There are no formal dates for squid diving expeditions. The trips, for a maximum of four divers per group, are planned when requested. Only divers who have made at least 200 dives and have current certification will be allowed on the trips.
The 5-day trip centers around 3 days of diving with the giant squid. Guests stay at the luxurious Loreto Bay Resort, an 3,237-hectare (8,000-acre) community neighboring the historic fishing town of Loreto in Baja Sur, Mexico. Around the dives there is time for other activities. Guests have the opportunity to play golf, go horseback riding, sailing, and deep sea fishing.
Shark Diver ( 888/328-7449; www.sharkdiver.com).
When to Go: July–Oct.
Loreto International, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
$$$ Inn at Loreto Bay Resort, Paseo de la Mission ( 877/865-6738 in the U.S. or 613/133-0010; www.exploreloretobay.com).