This young beachcomber with her bucket of seashells came over to see my exciting discovery on the tideline yesterday at Studland Bay. Floating amongst the red and green seaweed in the warm shallow water washing ashore were glistening gelatinous masses of squid eggs.
Each mass of eggs had a central pale blue hollow sac that probably helps to keep the eggs afloat. The eggs are contained in what looks like long jelly fingers radiating out from the central sac – something like frog-spawn or tapioca pudding in appearance. The overall size of the mass was quite big – as you can see from the top picture – it wouldn’t have been possible to fit the egg mass into the young lady’s bucket, for example. It must have been a very big sea creature that laid these eggs.
Squid are Cephalopod molluscs like the octopus and cuttle fish. These marine animals have tentacles. I am not too certain which species these eggs belong to – but it is likely to be either the Common Squid, Loligo vulgaris Lamark, or the Long Finned Squid, Loligo forbesii Steenstrup, both of which can be found in the coastal and offshore waters along the Jurassic Coast.
The Common Squid grows up to 75 centimetres long including the tentacles (which are twice the length of the body); and the Long Finned Squid is a bit smaller – reaching just 60 centimetres. Neither have a proper shell, a proper internal skeleton, or even a large “bone” as in the Cuttle Fish ( you know – the sort that you frequently find on the beach and that you can buy in pet shops for caged birds). Squids have a reduced internal shell like a slim, horny pen.
The picture above shows the moment when the egg mass was actually beached on the sand by the incoming tide. You can see the bubbles of the retreating wave.
In the photograph below you can see the egg mass a few moments earlier as it floated amongst red and green seaweeds in the shallows as it travelled ashore with the incoming tide.