Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Arrr, more squid!

The headline reads "Voracious Jumbo Squid invade California!"
What a load of codswallop.
Sure, the Humboldt Squid is usually found in warmer more southerly waters, but it's not as if this is some foreign creature. Living at depths of 600 to below 2000 feet (only surfacing to hunt) and not well researched because of it, Humboldt Squid can none the less be found in numbers in the Baja region of California/Mexico where they're heavily fished by Mexican fisherman. A recent documentary showed the devastating impact this heavy fishing has on the species. While always aggressive on the hunt, the Humboldt Squid is normally a cooperative hunter, hunting its natural prey of anything from krill to hake and anchovies in groups. But when squid are being hooked and hauled aboard left and right the opportunistic predators go into a frenzy, attacking and eating anything in sight...including researcher's camera equipment. There are documented reports of Humboldts attacking divers, and famed videographer Scott Cassell has even made himself a 'squid suit' designed to protect him against their razor sharp beaks and chitinous teeth ringed tentacle suckers. Humboldt Squid only live for an estimated maximum of 4 years (sometimes only 1), growing in that time to a documented 7 feet in length. Researchers conclude that this is the reason for their sometimes uber-aggressive behavior. With such a limited time span the Humboldt Squid has to do whatever it can to survive and progress. This is also the reason why the Humboldt Squid is so adaptable, and therefore a 'problem' to California fishermen.
But let us consider the facts, kids. Why are Humboldts moving north? Could it be the pressure from fishing in the Baja region and the coast of South America? Could it be that Humboldts natural food sources in their historic ranges (aside from other humboldts) has been damaged? Or (my bet) could it be that commercial fishing has so decimated stocks of fish, both predator and prey, that the Humboldts are now filling a gap that was never there before? While the Humboldts feed on anchovies and hake (normally prey of the tuna in this region) the fishermen would love to catch, their numbers increase more dramatically because their natural predators (tuna, swordfish, shark) have been fished into a steep decline.
Why is it that when Nature is out of balance we always try to blame Nature, when really we should be taking a closer look at ourselves?
Unfortunately I can't find any organizations directly dedicated to Squid Conversation, so today you'll just have to suffice with educating yourself!


Anonymous said...

I believe that these beautiful animals only attack human to prevent them from being attacked as well. I believe this because more than often someone is attacked near a boat. I think the reason for this is that so many are hunted every day and when they see a boat, humboldts mood quickly changes into fury and when someone hops into the water for a swim, there instict is to attack. Think of it this way. Someone once tried to, I don't know, kid nap you, you distictly remember the type of car and the liscens number. No one caught him/her. Another night you see the same exact car parked out front, what do you do? Sit there and let the intruder in, or do you defend yourself? I think these animals are just smarter than we think.

Jax said...

I recently saw part of an episode of "Rogue Nature" on Animal Planet featuring the Humboldt Squid, but I did not see the host actually confront the squid! I was very excited about the episode, and I hope people learned something from it, but I could not watch the last part because while the divers were filming the feeding squid, they were also filming fishermen hauling live squid up onto the boats and chopping them up while they still flailed..I just couldn't watch!