Market Squid
Loligo opalescens

Physical Description

  • A smaller squid, reach a total of one foot in length including their arms
  • Iridescent coloration of milky white and purple spots; can change color in response to their environment
  • Eight arms and two tentacles extending from the end of their bodies where their mouth is located
  • Can release ink to escape a predator


  • From southeastern Alaska to Baja California, Mexico
  • Most abundant from Monterey Bay, California to Punta Eugenia, Baja California, Mexico


  • Nearshore species
  • From ocean surface to 2600 feet deep. Spend days at depth and come to surface at night to feed
  • Adults come to sandy habitats to lay eggs


  • Feed on krill, small crustaceans, small fish, and other squid


  • Eaten by many fish, including salmon, lingcod, and rockfish
  • Eaten by seabirds and marine mammals

Interesting Facts

  • Market squid have a short life span, only 6-9 months, and the entire population replaces itself annually.
  • They are heavily impacted by water temperature, with many less squid during El Niño events.
  • The market squid fishery is one of the largest fisheries in the United States and the most financially valuable fishery in California.

Sources: NOAA Fisheries;

Photo: David R Andrew

Are you a fourth through twelfth grade teacher and want your kids to learn more about market squid? Book a Squid Dissection Discovery Lab at Birch Aquarium! 

You can also dissect one at SeaCamp (5th and 6th grade)!

Or anyone is welcome to help dissect one on a Full Moon Pier Walk

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