Jumbo squid invade California waters, affecting fish populations
July 25, 2007

Jumbo squid (Dosidicus gigas) are invading California waters, putting commercial fish populations at risk, reports a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The cephalopods, which can measure 7-feet long and weigh 110 pounds (50 kg), seem to be expanding their range in California waters and beyond, according to researchers tracking the beasts. First spotted in 1997, Jumbo squid are now frequently found off the California coast, with periodic "mass wash-ups" of squids on beaches. No one is sure what causes Jumbo squid to end up on beaches.

Now researchers from Stanford University and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute report that the presence of squid is having an impact on marine food chain, triggering a drop in Pacific hake fish populations.

"Having a new, voracious predator set up shop here in California may be yet another thing for fishermen to compete with," the study's co-author, Stanford University researcher Louis Zeidberg, told the Associated Press.

The researchers say that depletion of the squid's predators -- sharks, swordfish, and large tin -- may be allowing the species to expand its range.

Jumbo squid, which are also known as Humboldt squid, are usually found at depths of 200-700 meters (600 to 2300 feet) where they are a favorite prey of sperm whales. They are also increasingly eaten by humans.


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Jumbo squid invade California waters, affecting fish populations.