In the last few days, hundreds of Humboldt Squid, Dosidicus gigas have washed ashore in Santa Cruz County and reasons are still unknown. The stranded squid are mostly well fed juveniles. Speculations include effects of a toxic algae bloom and onshore currents which may have disoriented these otherwise deep dwelling invertebrates. These animals are extremely adaptable and seem to be adjusting to oceanic climate changes. They can thrive in low oxygen layers of the ocean starting 300 meters deep, a vast midwater area that apprears to be expanding.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Known in Mexico as “Diablo Rojo, Humboldt Squid are voracious predators which could adversely effect the natural balances within our Monterey Bay ecosystem. Historically, they were not found in our colder bay water but may have first appeared in Monterey Bay during an El Nino event in 1997. Since then, they have extended their northern range as far as Alaska. Historically, these unique cephalopods ranged along the Pacific coast of Central and South America.

Despite these concerns, it is an opportunity to learn from an animal that typically flourishes at depths exceeding 2000 feet. Many of our local kids are fascinated by creatures of the Monterey Canyon and the Deep Sea. Though it may be disturbing for some, a visit to our beaches now affords a unique learning adventure.