Quantcast

«

»

Dec 11 2012

Giant squid attempt beachhead at Santa Cruz

As part of our ongoing campaign here to make you doublecheck to see which one of the bloggers here wrote a post, I offer this story about a mass stranding of Humboldt squid, Dosidicus gigas, near Santa Cruz, California. Hundreds of the poor things have washed up on the beaches around Santa Cruz in the last few days:

Humboldt squid have been seen in much greater than usual numbers in Monterey Bay, where the stranding took place, since 2000 or so. Before that there were more commonly associated with nearby semitropical bodies of water like the Sea of Cortez. Some have conjectured that warming ocean temperatures have encourage the giant squid to move northward.

The Sea of Cortez lies atop a geological rift valley at the north end of the East Pacific Rise, and as a result of the tectonic rifting, which is peeling the Baja Peninsula and some of Southern California away from the North American continent, the Sea reaches depths of about 3,000 meters, or close to 10,000 feet.

In other words,  the heating up of a deep rift is thought to have played a role in an invasion of squid. #ftbullies

Santa Cruz is a pretty strongly feminist town, but perhaps the squid were aiming for the boyzone tech communities of Silicon Valley, just across the mountains.

More prosaically, it’s possible something similar to the well-known seasonal red tide bloom might have poisoned the squid. Apparently some of the dead squid have tested positive for domoic acid, a bioaccumulative algal toxin.

Really, the best thing about this story is the San Jose Mercury News’ description of the Humboldt squid:

The dark red squid beached during the weekend are 2 to 3 feet long with enormous eyes and long tentacles extending from their mouth. Their predators include blue sharks, sperm whales and Risso’s dolphins. They eat 50 to 60 different species of fish, can change their size from generation to generation to cope with varying food supplies, and can reproduce in huge numbers. The larger females produce translucent egg sacks the size of a small car containing 20 million to 30 million eggs.

It would take egg sacs the size of a small car to try to swim over the Santa Cruz Mountains to bully the tech boys. Ave atque vale, brave molluscs.

23 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Ichthyic

    can change their size from generation to generation to cope with varying food supplies

    I’ll start really worrying when it looks like they can modify the ability to breathe air from generation to generation.

  2. 2
    moarscienceplz

    As one of the aforementioned tech boys, I for one, welcome our new cephalopod overlords!

  3. 3
    PZ Myers

    Does this mean that I have to write about Joshua trees tomorrow?

  4. 4
    Cuttlefish

    Yeah, red tide! That’s what it was!

    Pay no attention–nothing to see here, move along!

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/cuttlefish/2012/12/11/clearly-they-were-rehearsing-for-cephalopodmas/

  5. 5
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    with enormous eyes

    If only someone could think of an everyday object to compare them to so people can appreciate their size. …

    I know! Dinner plates!

    *runs*

  6. 6
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    Uh huh. HAARP did it.

  7. 7
    Chris Clarke

    Uh huh. HAARP did it.

    Via a team of highly trained “Seals”.

  8. 8
    A. R

    Did anyone check them for laser attachments? We don’t want to waste this valuable opportunity to collect intelligence on this grave threat.

  9. 9
    Crissa

    Did you see the whale sightings in Santa Cruz this year? It’s been awesome, although all I’ve seen is dolphins. There haven’t been whales in the Santa Cruz moorage in… Well, I don’t know any records of them! And they haven’t stopped to feed here since Steinbeck was run out of Monterey. And they were doing both!

    The red tides are pretty nasty, tho, so I usually stick to the beaches north of town in the fall.

  10. 10
    Kagato

    The first squid at around the 18 sec mark looks vaguely like a severed arm at first glance.

    As part of our ongoing campaign here to make you doublecheck to see which one of the bloggers here wrote a post…

    Yeah, about that… I don’t suppose it would be possible to get your avatars above/next to your name? I’m slowly training myself to check the byline on each post, but I’m pretty sure my brain would identify the author visually before I’ve even located the name on the page.

  11. 11
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Giant squid attempt beachhead

    Giant squid have beaks. Them attempting any kind of head is terrifying. O.O

  12. 12
    Chris Clarke

    I’m pushing for a way to have all my posts show up in Papyrus.

  13. 13
    Argle Bargle

    I’m pushing for a way to have all my posts show up in Papyrus.

    Admit it, you hate us.

  14. 14
    Kagato

    /ednortonlaptop.gif

  15. 15
    Kagato

    Seeing as I was already messing about with the page CSS to figure out what’s wrong with preview links, I masochistically thought to myself, “what would a page full of Papyrus look like?”, and tested it.

    Chris, if you ever attempt this, I will cut you.

  16. 16
    Artor

    There was a beaching of Humbolt squid here in Oregon a couple years ago, at Heceta Head, just north of Florence. I’m surprised that people write about them, but nobody ever mentions the claws. It’s quite a surprise to some people that some squid, the Humbolt included, have hooked cat-claws in place of suckers. Their beaks are nasty, but they can flay you with their tentacles too. Fortunately for us, they are very short-lived, and they almost always leave their lasers behind when they come to the surface.

  17. 17
    ChasCPeterson

    #ftbullies

    bwaha!
    haha!

  18. 18
    carlie

    Oh, the Humbanity. :(

  19. 19
    Ichthyic

    Some notes from an expert local to Monterey, Gary Sharp:

    The Humboldt Squid show up on beaches from Baja California all the way to Oregon
    and recently as far north a British Columbia – due to intensified coastal Upwelling and related deep water processes -
    (http://marinebio.org/species.asp?id=249) – pretty clear

    Warming/Cooling along the Pacific Coastlines are NORMAL with ENSO (me: that’s El Nino/Southern Oscillation) playing a large role off South America.
    Their real habitat is in the deep cool waters of the transition of Pacific coastal upwelling regions and the Tropical Ocean, basically from the Gulf of California into the Eastern Tropical Pacific, and northward -

    About two weeks ago there was an article in the Monterey Herald about their being found just along the beaches around the Hopkins Marine Station, and collected by students and staff, where William Gilly has studied them for decades -

    http://hopkins.stanford.edu/gilly.html

    They do not ‘Swim’ all the way – but get a free ride in the 200-300 meter deep current that flows north along the coast,driven by strong NW winds that drive the California Current southward, and creates a strong gravitational ‘dent’ in the surface waters that is resolved by those deep cool (squid habitat) water northward currents – that refills the missing water. Then Strong Upwelling events – often associated with our offshore storm winds – sucks their cool deep habitat upward into the coastal areas and some end up on the beaches a long way from home.

    In the Southern Eastern Pacific, they range from the Galapagos, southward into Equador/Peru/ and during their strong -often decadal weather events – get a free ride south into Chile, where the indigenous Mapucho (Bahia Concepcion, and southward) thrived on them during their ‘invasions’.

    Just more facts about the role of the winds and ocean currents – both surface and deeper into the System -

    As a mean, hungry species, that pops to the surface to feed at night – and – that only lives one year –
    There are lots of things to consider!

    These things are vicious predators and others have noted probable impacts on Salmon populations as far north as British Columbia over the last decade or so.

  20. 20
    SallyStrange

    It’s easy for me to tell which posts are yours and which are PZ’s, because I can understand yours (the science-related ones, I mean).

  21. 21
    unclefrogy

    so why do they beach themselves? I saw a article earlier and it said they did not know for sure about this one and mentioned other times but said nothing. asked some guy wow squid wow. I know that if they ever do find out it wont be publicized unless it is sensationalize-able.

    uncle frogy

  22. 22
    Ichthyic

    so why do they beach themselves

    scroll up:

    …Strong Upwelling events – often associated with our offshore storm winds – sucks their cool deep habitat upward into the coastal areas and some end up on the beaches a long way from home.

  23. 23
    elpayaso

    but nobody ever mentions the claws. It’s quite a surprise to some people that some squid, the Humbolt included, have hooked cat-claws in place of suckers. Their beaks are nasty, but they can flay you with their tentacles too.

    these are interesting….they grab you even a day after the squid is dead. i kept some tentacles for bait once after i gave away the 40lb body and they would hang onto my hand the next day. no volitional effort required. dead Cthulhu and all that.

Comments have been disabled.