Words and Photography by Joe Platko
Through part of the California lockdown, scuba diving was one of the few activities that was still allowed for residents. We were lucky, as during a unique one week diving window, a few friends and I were able to have a rare experience while photographing off the central coast. Diving allowed us to have at least a bit of normalcy to our lives; however, on this one occasion the diving was anything but normal. Upon our descent my anticipation began to build. Soon, we spotted the first few squid, swimming up towards our dive lights. As soon as we began to see bottom, this is what we dropped in on—a massive mating aggregation of Californian market squid. The squid were rising up from the deep trench to mate and lay their eggs on the sandy seafloor at the edge of a drop-off. From 50-100 feet (15-30m) there were fields of eggs that had already been laid, and yet more squid came up to continue mating as predators such as angel sharks, sea lions, and harbor seals feasted on them. After a week of diving, the huge schools of market squid were gone, and all that remained were the vast carpets of eggs, and our hope that the majority end up hatching, so we can witness the same spectacle again next year.
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