Humboldt Squid Population Exploding Due to Global Warming

Most fish species in the Pacific Ocean are declining except for the Humboldt squid named after the Humboldt Current in South America. The Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas) is notoriously aggressive and can weigh as much as 100 pounds. Called the diablos rojos, or red devils, by Mexican fisherman, the Humboldt Squid can take off your finger with its beak. Sometimes called jumbo squid, the Humboldt squid’s traditional range was from ranging from Tierra del Fuego to California. Recently, they’ve appeared as far north as Sitka, Alaska. According to the Smithsonian, “Some oceanographers suggest that warming oceans are at fault, while others speculate that declining numbers of the squid’s predators due to overfishing may have allowed Humboldts to expand their range.”


Humboldt Squid prefer warmer waters and the recent range expansion is most likely caused by climate. Since 2002, millions of Humboldt have migrated north. Since they live about a thousand feet under the surface of the ocean, changes in their range reflect warmer temperatures at greater depths in the ocean than just the surface.

Image by roctopusHumboldt Squid is Perfectly Adaptable to Climate Change
Humboldt Squid is Perfectly Adaptable to Climate Change

Biology professor William Gilly of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station has been studying and tracking Humboldt squid. Gilly explains, “If you’re a betting man, I would bet on the squid and not on the fish. It has a lot to teach us about what predators will be here in a time of climate change. The squid is super-adaptable.”

Biologists are concerned that the Humboldt squid are affecting California fisheries. Dr. Bruce Robison of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute explains, “Tiny little crill, or great big fishes … They can eat whatever they want whenever they want. If I was a Humboldt squid, I’d be knocking off salmon!”

Gilly warns, “You will get accustomed to eating less salmon and more squid. I can guarantee that.”

One thing scientists agree on is the Humboldt squid is perfectly adaptable to climate change. Some biologist have even gone so far as to predict the Humboldt squid may be the only coastal fishery left in California. With the second straight commercial salmon season cancellation imminent, they may be right.

Written by Jennifer Lance

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