Animals -> Marine Invertebrates -> Cephalopods -> Squids


The Micmac (Mi'kmaq) and Tlingit are reported to have frequently eaten squid [1, 2]. The Haihais, Bella Bella (Hieltsuk), Oowekeeno (Hieltsuk) and Labrador Inuit are also reported to have consumed it [3, 4]. The Micmac collected squid by lighting bonfires at high tide, luring them to the beach where they would get stranded and be easily gathered when the tide went out [2]. The Coast Salish are reported to have boiled, steamed and roasted squid [5]. Although most literature does not specify which squid species was consumed, the California market squid is a frequently-fished inshore species distributed along the Pacific coast from California to Alaska. Cultures of the northwest coast including Kwakiutl (Kwakwaka'wakw) and Tlingit are also reported to have used a cuttlefish-like species to supplement their diets, which was likely the eastern pacific bobtail squid. This species, which was also used as bait to catch halibut and cod, was typically collected by women with a long stick at low tide in winter [6-10].

Wampanoag are reported to have eaten longfin inshore squids [11].

The Micmac of Newfoundland are reported to have caught Northern shortfin squids in September and October [12].


1.         Krause A: The Tlingit Indians: Results of a Trip to the Northwest Coast of America and the Bering Straits. Seattle: University of Washington Press; 1956.

2.         Speck FG, Dexter RW: Utilization of animals and plants by the Micmac Indians of New Brunswick. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 1951, 41(8):250-259.

3.         Hilton SF: Haihais, Bella Bella, and Oowekeeno. In: Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 7: Northwest Coast. edn. Edited by Suttles W. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution; 1990: 312-316.

4.         Mackey MGA, Orr RDM: An Evaluation of Household Country Food Use in Makkovik, Labrador, July 1980 - June 1981. Arctic 1987, 40(1):60-65.

5.         Barnett HG: Food; Occupations. In: The Coast Salish of British Columbia. Volume 1st edition, edn. Eugene: University of Oregon; 1955: 59-107.

6.         Ravenhill A: Chief Sources of Food Supply. In: The native tribes of British Columbia. edn. Victoria: King's Printer; 1938: 71-77.

7.         Boas F: Kwakiutl Ethnography. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press; 1966.

8.         Niblack AP: Food; Implements and Weapons; Hunting and Fishing. In: The Coast Indians of Southern Alaska and Northern British Columbia: based on the collections in the US National Museum and on the personal observation of the writer in connection with the survey of Alaska in the seasons of 1885, 1886 and 1887. edn.: [S.l. : s.n., 19--?]; 1899.

9.         Eells M: The Indians of Puget Sound: The Notebooks of Myron Eells. Seattle: University of Washington Press; 1985.

10.       Emmons GT: Food and Its preparation. In: The Tlingit Indians. edn. Edited by de Laguna F. New York: American Museum of Natural History; 1991: 140-153.

11.       Speck FG, Dexter RW: Utilization of marine life by the Wampanoag Indians of Massachusetts. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 1948, 38(8):257-265.

12.       Mackey MGA, Bernard L, Smith BS: Country Food Consumption by Selected Households of the Micmac in Conne River Newfoundland in 1985-86. In.; 1986.

Squids are a diverse group of cephalopods, like octopuses, found throughout the world, from the poles to the tropics and from shallow coastal waters to deep oceans. In North America, squids include two species along the Pacific coast, the California market squid (Loligo opalescens) and the eastern Pacific bobtail squid (Rossia pacifica), and two species along the Atlantic coast, the longfin inshore squid (L. pealeii) and the northern shortfin squid (Illex illecebrosus).

All squids are torpedo-shape and have a rounded 2-lobe fin, four pairs of arms with suckers along their full length, and one pair of longer, narrower tentacles ending with an enlarged lobe with suckers. Unlike octopus suckers, squid suckers are attached by a stalk and a horny ring. Among cephalopods, squids show the most variation in size, with some species measuring less then a few centimeters and others measuring up to several meters.

Squids are adapted for fast swimming and unlike octopuses, which are most often sedentary and solitary, they often move around in shoals in pursuit of preys. They feed mainly on crustaceans, fish, and squids. Generally, squids are short-lived and reproduce only once after what both sexes die. Some species form major spawning aggregations at certain times and in very localized areas, like the California market squid along the California coast, which is immediately followed by massive mortality of all breeding individuals. Many large fish, seabird, and marine mammal species prey on squids.


Boyle P, Rodhouse P: Cephalopods: ecology and fisheries. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Science Ltd; 2005.


Images provided below, unless otherwise stated, were obtained from: Encyclopedia of Life. Available from
California market squid
NOAA FishWatch
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This map is based on occurrence records available through the GBIF network
Eastern Pacific bobtail squid
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Supplier: Wikimedia Commons
This map is based on occurrence records available through the GBIF network
Longfin inshore squid
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© Michael Vecchione
Supplier: Tree of Life web project
This map is based on occurrence records available through the GBIF network
Northern shortfin squid
Public Domain
This map is based on occurrence records available through the GBIF network
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