San Diego, CA - Dozens of giant squid washed ashore over the weekend after an earthquake
giant squid
© Unknown
struck offshore from La Jolla.

The magnitude 4.0 earthquake struck at 7:34 a.m. Saturday and was centered 19 miles west of La Jolla in the ocean. Residents said the rattling lasted 15 to 20 seconds, but there were no reports of injuries or damage, according to the San Diego Fire Department.

The temblor was felt throughout the county, and residents are used to getting jolted by earthquakes. But what happened next was more unusual. Dozens of Humboldt squid, three to four feet long and weighing close to 40 pounds, began showing up on La Jolla Shores beach, lifeguards reported.

"It's like their equilibrium is all messed up and they don't know what they're doing and they can't back out there," Bill Baumann told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "It was like they got -- I don't know -- all shook up."

Next, like a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds,'' seagulls began to swoop down and eat the squid.

Beachgoers tried to save the squishy sea life by throwing them back in the ocean, but it was a difficult task because the squid were heavy and slippery, and kept washing back up on the shore, the newspaper reported.

Some people suggested the earthquake may have caused the squid to become disoriented.

Lifeguard Sgt. David Rains told the newspaper the earthquake theory is but one of several possibilities.

He said the squid could have been feeding on fish in the area, or that a sudden drop in water temperature may have confused the sea urchins, but he isn't sure why the squid washed up on the beach.

"We've had some good temperature inversions. We've had a lot of cold water come up to the beach. I think that cold water brings a lot of nutrients ย… and squid follow food," Rains said.

Rains noted that the squid can be hazardous to swimmers.

"The Humboldt squid can be very big and very powerful and they may be dangerous," he said. "It's just something I wouldn't mess with until you're sure that it's dead. They've got a lot of suckers and claws and a parrot-like beak and they can inflict some damage."

Scores of squid washing up on the shore at the same time is unusual but has happened before, Rains said.