Jul
25
2007

Those darn squid: California waters under attack

Squid attack: This squid is a shrimpy two feet long, but monster squid are being found off the coast of central California, eating up the marine life that is vital to the fishing economy of the area. (Photo from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Squid attack: This squid is a shrimpy two feet long, but monster squid are being found off the coast of central California, eating up the marine life that is vital to the fishing economy of the area. (Photo from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Jumbo shrimp is one of those oxymorons that still crack me up.

Jumbo squid now being seen off the coast of central California don’t have anybody laughing.

Humboldt squid, which can grow up to 7 feet long and weigh more than 110 pounds, are gobbling up the anchovy, hake and or commercial fish schools that are a vital part of that area’s economy.

That type of squid used to only be found in the warmer, equatorial waters of the Pacific. But over the past decade and half, they’ve been spreading out to cooler climates and seem to be hitting central California especially hard.

Sounds like another example of global warming, right? Not so fast.

The chief reason behind the squid migration is probably food supply. They’re adapting to the cooler waters due to other fishing practices, researchers say.

Predators of the Humboldt squid are primarily tuna and swordfish. As their numbers have dropped due to high fishing pressures in the northern Pacific, the squid now have more room to roam to find their own food, researchers say. And with the new territory, they’re acquiring a taste for new aquatic species as well.

Planning to take a California vacation yet this summer? Don’t worry about a squid attack on you. Despite their large size, these jumbo squid are still pretty low on the food chain and have no interest in consuming humans, or any other mammals for that matter.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

Humboldt squid are a hot topic today. :)

Check out item #2 in Gene's "Deep sea roundup" post from earlier this morning for more on these guys...

posted on Wed, 07/25/2007 - 3:49pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

ewww grosss is all i have to say

posted on Thu, 07/26/2007 - 2:40pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

This Humboldt squid article from the New York Times ("In Monterey Bay, a Mollusk Strays and Stays for Dinner") is completely brilliant.

Here's my favorite bit:

"The videos capture the cephalopods aggressively gobbling prey. 'It’s sort of like if you ever saw Kobayashi eat hot dogs,' said Dr. Zeidberg, referring to the speed-eating contestant. 'He sort of chops them up and bites them really fast.'

The squids feed on small crustaceans and lanternfish in the tropics, but here they have also discovered bigger game. 'They’re incredibly voracious predators,' said John Field, a biologist in the Santa Cruz division of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."

Also, it turns out that one of the Humboldt squid's favorite foods is Pacific Hake, which people mostly use to make fish sticks and imitation crab. Toddlers everywhere, unite against the squid! Your dinner may depend on it!

posted on Tue, 07/31/2007 - 9:50am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I think it is time to put the Humboldt on OUR menu---If everyone eats them up as calamari, maybe we will fare alright!!!

posted on Sun, 11/23/2008 - 9:36pm
Your friendly neighborhood spiderman's picture
Your friendly neighborhood spiderman says:

that thing is so cool

posted on Wed, 12/29/2010 - 3:56pm

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