Hundreds of Humboldt squid wash up at Rio del Mar

December 11, 2012 12:40:22 AM PST
Hundreds of jumbo flying squid washed ashore along the beaches at Rio del Mar near Aptos, but why it's happening remains a mystery.

The squid are also known as Humboldt squid. Residents told us this began on Sunday and that raccoons and seagulls have eaten most of the squid, but you can still find plenty of them out there.

"Aw man, there's probably thousands. There are a lot of them all up and down," said Aptos resident Norman Aguillon. By the end of the day, most of the squid had been eaten and Aguillon says the seagulls have been gorging themselves. "Our dogs wanted to go after them because they were all sitting on the beach. They had their fill."

Researchers with the Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford are trying to figure out why these Humboldt squid ventured out of their native waters, in the Sea of Cortez near the Baja peninsula.

"It's the first time I've seen squid and it's definitely the first time I've seen really big squid," said Aptos resident Alice Chapman.

And these are just the babies. Adult Humboldt squid can grow to six-feet long and 100 pounds, but researchers say all of these squid are juveniles. They were likely conceived and born in Monterey Bay, and were unable to make it out to sea.

"When I came yesterday, they were still alive, some of them. They were still moving in the ponds and their bodies were all intact," said Chapman.

This isn't the first stranding. Researchers recorded smaller strandings over the past two months from Santa Cruz to Pacific Grove. Now they'll be examining the contents of their stomachs to see if they died from natural or unnatural causes.

The last large stranding recorded was in 2004 when about 1,500 Humboldt squid washed up on shore along the Long Beach Peninsula in Washington State.


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