Forage Fish
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Photo: Two California Market Squid in a net.

Forage Fish Identification Guide

California Market Squid (Opalescent Squid)
Doryteuthis (formerly Loligo) opalescens

Commonly caught from the Strait of Juan de Fuca to south Puget Sound by recreational fishers.   See the Sportfishing Regulation Pamphlet.

Description: The body of the California Market Squid can range in color from white to brown and can change depending on mood, or for camouflage.  They are normally a bluish-white to mottled brown and change to dark red when excited, frightened, or feeding.   California Market Squid are long and tapered with a mantle that is not fused to the head and their bodies are 4 to 5 times longer than they are wide, with fins equal in both length and width.  This squid has 8 arms that have 2 rows of alternating suckers running down their length.  It also has 2 longer tentacles ending in clubs with 4 rows of suckers and 2 large rows of suckers on the clubs that are bordered by outer rows of smaller suckers.  The eyes of this species are covered with a membrane.

Maximum Size: To 21 cm (8.3 in) in length, and 40 g (0.09 lbs) in weight.

Maximum Age:  Up to 9 months.

Range/Habitat:  California Market Squid range from Baja, Mexico to Alaska.  This species lives within 200 miles of shore, moves off the continental shelf by day, and can be found in depths up to 500 m (1,640 ft).  Shoals of adults move to the surface at night to hunt.   Spawning occurs in aggregations with females creating 5-20 eggs capsules containing 100-300 fertilized eggs.   Females attach egg capsules to sandy bottoms with a thin anchoring strand.  Wave surge ventilates the eggs for 45-75 days depending on water temperature.  Paralarvae emerge and grow into juveniles and then into adults that die after spawning.  Over the course of their development, California Market Squid progress through a diet that is dominated by copepods, then euphausiids, and eventually fish, crabs, shrimp, mollusks and other juvenile squid.  They are preyed upon during every developmental stage with predators ranging from sea stars to fish, marine mammals, and birds.


  • Zeidberg, L.D., 2013. Doryteuthis opalescens, Opalescent Inshore Squid. Advances in Squid Biology, Ecology and Fisheries, Part I–Myopsid Squid. Nova Science Publishers, New York, pp.159-204.
  • Warner, R.R., Hamilton, S.L., Sheehy, M.S., Zeidberg, L.D., Brady, B.C. and Caselle, J.E., 2009. Geographic variation in natal and early larval trace-elemental signatures in the statoliths of the market squid Doryteuthis (formerly Loligo) opalescens. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 379, pp.109-121.
  • Doryteuthis opalescens Wiki

Photo: P. Campbell and WDFW