Thousands of jumbo squid have beached themselves on central California shores this week, committing mass “suicide.” But despite decades of study into the phenomenon in which the squid essentially fling themselves onto shore, the cause of these mass beachings have been a mystery.
But a few intriguing clues suggest poisonous algae that form so-called red tides may be intoxicating the Humboldt squid and causing the disoriented animals to swim ashore in Monterey Bay, said William Gilly, a marine biologist at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, Calif.
Each of the strandings has corresponded to a red tide, in which algae bloom and release an extremely potent brain toxin, Gilly said. This fall, the red tides have occurred every three weeks, around the same time as the squid beachings, he said. (The squid have been stranding in large numbers for years, with no known cause.)
APTOS — Hundreds of Humboldt squid washed up on Santa Cruz County beaches Sunday in a mass stranding that is not uncommon but remains somewhat of a mystery to marine scientists.
The even more intriguing question, they say, is why the voracious feeders, also called jumbo flying squid, began venturing up to the Central Coast in 2000 from the Sea of Cortez and other warmer spots — and what their effect is on the ocean environment.
As for the stranding, Hopkins University researcher William Gilly said mass strandings are common when squid invade a new area. In late October, about 100 washed up in Pacific Grove.
They stop if squid colonize successfully or leave the area, Gilly said, a pattern common on the West Coast between 2002-2009.
“My theory is that when the squid invade a new area — they are returning to Monterey Bay for the first time in nearly three years, and the squid are only 8 or 9 months old — they follow an algorithm (which is to) swim and find productive areas, especially by investigating anomalies, until you run into trouble,” he said. “That mission takes some of them onto the beach. The question I can’t answer is why they stop doing this after they successfully colonize an area. Perhaps the real pioneers are selected out, or maybe the survivors of a stranding go back to sea and warn the others.”
**West coast CPS ‘forage’ harvest is strictly limited to leave most fish in the ocean, so innovative fish farmers are developing alternative feeds to provide high quality seafood for restaurants and seafood consumers.
What is the future of seafood?
A new video, funded by the U.S. soybean industry, takes us behind the scenes to what could become the beginning of a “green” fish-farming revolution.
“The video shows folks that industry is concerned about sustainability and that research is being conducted to address potential problems with cage farming,” said Donald Kent, president of Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in San Diego. “Sea Grant and NOAA should take some credit for making this a possibility.”
Fish farmers at the innovative Pacifico Aquaculture are raising white sea bass, yellowtail and other premium finfish species in floating open-ocean cages near Isla Todos Santos (a famous big wave surf spot) off the coast of Ensenada, Mexico.
The farm has recently earned a “best aquaculture practices” certification for all its green efforts.
Clerical workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will return to work Wednesday, ending a strike that crippled America’s busiest shipping hub for more than a week.
Leaders of the 800-member International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 Office Clerical Unit agreed to a tentative deal after marathon negotiations that ended late Tuesday. The deal will not become final until it is ratified by the full union membership.
It ends a grueling battle between both sides that threatened to damage the fragile U.S. economy. Since the strike began, 20 ships diverted to rival ports in Oakland, Ensenada and Panama, while other freighters docked offshore waiting for a resolution.
“This was at a critical juncture,” said Jock O’Connell, an international trade economist. “The national economy is still trying to get on its feet and this strike would have been decidedly unhelpful. There are enough head winds out there already.
HALF MOON BAY — It’s a great time to be a calamari lover.
California fishermen have capitalized on favorable ocean conditions with a historic three-year haul of market squid, whose cylindrical bodies are most recognizable in appetizer form: sliced, breaded and deep-fried. These small squid make up the state’s largest fishery by both weight and value, having brought in roughly $68.5 million in 2011.
Fishermen netted a record-breaking 133,642 tons of the cephalopods during the 2010-11 season, then topped that mark the following year with 134,910 tons, according to the California Department of Fish and Game. This season’s catch was also robust, though it is expected to fall a bit short of those staggering totals.
More than 80 percent of the state’s market squid are typically caught in Southern California around the Channel Islands, and most of the rest are netted in Monterey Bay. But this year brought unprecedented fishing activity to the San Mateo County coast, said Mike McHenry, one of only a couple of people who fish squid out of Pillar Point Harbor north of Half Moon Bay.
“This is by far the biggest season we’ve ever seen up in this country,”