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Attack Of The Jumbo Squid July 24, 2007

Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Easy As Pie, Environment, Marine Life, Ocean.
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Credit: New Scientist Video.

On California’s central coast, enormous and hungry jumbo squid are gobbling up the local fish. Their true name is Dosidicus gigas and they initially appeared near Monterey, California after an El Niño heated up the waters in 1997. Since 2002, they have been permanent fixtures in these waters where they are threatening the fish populations. According to Bruce Robison of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California, United States-who is studying these giant squid-global warming and overfishing are the culprits behind it all.

Global Warming

From the tropical waters of Central America and Mexico, these squid would typically head north, following the warm ocean currents during an El Niño. After satiating their massive appetites on fish, they would then head back to the tropics once the water cooled again. The effect of global warming, however, means they have taken up residence in the consistently warmer waters.

Overfishing

Overfishing shows how our actions on one type of fish can affect other ocean dwelling creatures. Because tuna have been overfished in the tropics, the number of squid has increased. Why? The tuna and squid both eat the same types of small fish. So, when the tuna are eating up some of these fish, there are less for the famished squid. Since some of the squid then go hungry, they die. Also, the tuna eat the young squid, which keeps the squid population from getting too big. By overfishing tuna, the squid populations have spiralled out of control.

According to Robison:

They are aggressive, pugnacious, voracious predators.

Yikes! Apparently, they are also known to eat their own kind. Fortunately, Robison also says:

I don’t think they consider humans fair game.

Well, that’s good news! Considering that the squid grow to approximately two meters in length, I can’t say that I’d want to battle it out with one the next time I hit up the California beaches and head for a swim.

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