If you are in Monterey and happen to find yourself walking along the shoreline early in the morning or later in the evening you might notice that while you have been staring out at the distant horizon a large group of ships has begun to congregate just off shore. These ships trail large nets and over their decks bright lights are blazing down illuminating the fisherman on deck and the waters below. After watching the a smaller boat with a single fisherman drag the large net into a large circle behind the mother ship an inquiring mind might what to know what’s there intrepid men are out catching so late in the evening. Fear not all your questions shall be answered here and now!
These large boats are part of the squid fishing fleet here in Monterey Bay and consist of about eleven boats. The squid season here in Monterey starts in April and ends in March during this time the fisherman must try and catch their allowed tonnage of squid. In order to catch this squid the fisherman light up the night and the waters below with those large lights that are so visible from shore. These lights attract the squid up from the depths, a technique that has been used since at least the 1860s when the squid industry started in Monterey. as the squids rise up from the depths the fisherman than encircle them with the large nets that trail behind the mother ship and a smaller satellite craft Once the school of squid is encircled the bottom of the net is drawn together to form a purse trapping the squid in the net, this is where the boats get the name of Purse Seiners from. the nets and squids are than brought back on board the mother ship and they then sail off to the harbor to deposit their lightly catch so it can be processed and turned into that delicious calamari that we all enjoy at the local restaurant in town. But we are not the only ones here in Monterey that enjoy a little calamari.
Our local Rissos Dolphins also enjoy a little calamari while here in Monterey. Rissos Dolphins are the second largest dolphin species here in Monterey and can reach lengths of 12ft and can weigh anywhere between 660 to 1,100lbs. They are our second largest dolphin species seen here in Monterey and can often times be mistaken for Killer Whales because of their large prominent dorsal fin. So if you find yourself out enjoying the beach and happen to see large gray dorsal fin playing in the waves be sure to get a really good look you may be catching a glimpse of a pod of Rissos dolphins getting ready to go out and grab a bight of some of that delicious calamari.