These stories about the Humboldt squid invasion off the California coast keep turning up — the latest from the San Jose Mercury News is broadly informative, and even cites a fresh new paper in PNAS. The work correlates the depth range of the squid with that of the Pacific hake, and also shows a rough correlation between the squid population and hake declines over a number of years. This suggests that maybe “invasion” isn’t the right word anymore: the Humboldts are new California residents.
The present situation off central California appears to be that
a physiologically tolerant species with a fast generation time
has moved into a new area during a period of substantial climatic,
oceanographic, and ecological changes. The occupation has
lasted through multiple generations of the invading species, which indicates a sustained population rather than a relict one
or multiple invasions. The geographical range of the invader now
extensively overlaps that of a large commercially valuable fish
stock. If this trend continues, top-down forcing could have a
major impact on the most abundant commercial groundfish
population off the west coast of North America. A similar
pattern may also be taking place in the Southern Hemisphere.
As a past resident of both Oregon and Washington states, which have experienced some irritating invasions of Californians, I have to say … now you know what if feels like, nyah nyah.
The authors also suggest that we may not be able to pin this one on global warming. The overfishing of swordfish and tuna have reduced the effects of these predators of the squid, and now they’re experiencing a bit of a population boom, one that means other animals on the food chain are experiencing some new pressures. Ecology is never simple, is it?
The newspaper article reports that people are fishing for the Humboldt squid, and it’s turning up on restaurant menus in the Monterey area (anyone try it? How is it?), and there are charter boats that will take you squid fishing. If I ever get a couple of days in Monterey, I think I’d like to try that.
(hat tip to Zeno)
Zeidberg LD, Robison BH (2007) Invasive range expansion by the Humboldt squid, Dosidicus gigas, in the eastern North Pacific. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA. July 23, 2007.
John Emerson says
I have read that the decimation of fish and whale species generally has caused a big increase in squid populations everywhere. (“I have read” is an educated way of saying “A co-worker of my brother-in-law met a guy who said…..”)
Mystic Olly says
Being an English major, I shouldn’t really comment but . . .
“The overfishing of swordfish and tuna have reduced the effects of these predators of the squid, and now they’re experiencing a bit of a population boom, one that means other animals on the food chain are experiencing some new pressures. Ecology is never simple, is it?”
This sounds like a gross simplification and, apparently, “Ecology is never simple”.
Am I allowed to call P-Zed a hypocrite??
I think we should be told.
Is that ending citation to LD Zeidberg correct, or should it be Zoidberg?
So it sounds like we’re fishing our way down the food chain. Over-fish the top predator, then over-fish the next level down, rinse and repeat until the sushi bar serves nothing but krill.
The local news is that people find the jumbo squid hard to prepare and to cook. I likes mine alive and in the wild. They’re too cool for a frying pan.
I went Humboldt fishing on a charter boat out of San Diego last spring. It was a lot of fun (you can check out some pictures here). The squid don’t fight much – catching them feels like reeling in a lead brick from 1000 feet down – but it was really cool to see them up on the deck squirting water and inking, chromatophores flashing…
That trip stocked my freezer with squid for months. After cleaning, you end up with steaks about an inch thick. I can’t say I was thrilled about the taste – the meat is very salty with a rubbery texture. The best way I found to prepare it was to bread and fry it, then serve with marinara sauce (which partially covers up the squid taste). Maybe the restaurant chefs have found better ways to prepare it though – I’d like to try some that was professionally cooked.
You gotta fish for the squid you’ve got, not the ones you wish you had. The Monterey bay fishing industry has long been all about the squid — pre-Humboldt. The whole bay from Monterey through Moss Landing and up to Santa Cruz — squid country from way back.
Arnosium Upinarum says
Mystic Olly: the paragraph you note begins with this sentence:
“The authors also suggest that we may not be able to pin this one on global warming.”
Where’s the hypocrite?
As for all the articles on this “Squid Invasion” out there, it is rather irksome to see wildlife (no matter the environment in question) constantly referred to in print as “commercial stock”. Are there no other practical uses for fishies (or anything else) that humans can comfortably identify other than what they represent once converted into $$$? Is nothing to be simply left alone on this planet anymore, or is it all potentially vulnerable to our various glutinous appetites?
I know its been rather unfashionable lately, but how about resurrecting that interesting idea about drastically reducing the human population as a worthwhile means of achieving at least SOME measure of success in dealing with every major problem from global warming, environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity to preserving energy and material resources on the way towards long-term sustainability, for a SANELY CIVILIZED approach to the advancing technology all desire in the future?
The #1 culprit responsible for ALL Big Problems facing human civilization in the future: too many people. Hard as it may seem, its our choice; either we restrain our appetite for reproducing like roaches, or we shall inevitably arrive at a point where our numbers will be cut down by natural forces and limitations beyond our control.
Guaranteed the latter scenario will not be pretty. If any of our descendant kids survive (and under what dilapidated condition we leave the planet to them is scarcely imaginable), they will forever curse our memory for being too stupid and selfishly narrow-minded to have avoided the precipitation of the Great Dying and Suffering while we could still manage it.
Of course, if nobody survives, we won’t have to worry about any heritage at all, curse or no curse…
Might want to pound the squid steaks down like abalone. Could make it more palatable…
Have you ever wondered why Californians move to Oregon and Washington? Immigrants pour in from the east, west, and south. My home town has tripled in size since we moved there in 1975–this has happened all over the state. Many native Californians can’t afford to live in their own state any more. Where are they supposed to go?
I think one of those turns up in the first cup noodle commercial at this site!
Romy B. says
Our “various glutinous appetites,” Arnosium U?
That pretty much sums up the cephalopod-centric quirkiness of this site– you’re tilting at squidmills!
Ever since I saw a Discovery Channel documentary on it, I’ve felt sorry for the squid being fished: the jig they use just seems so grisly.