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Giant squid expanding their dominance of the eastern Pacific

Sunday 08 Mar 2009 12:00a.m.

Giant squid expanding their dominance of the eastern Pacific

Off the California coast it has been getting harder to catch big fish like salmon but a whole lot easier to hook a deep sea monster - the Humboldt Squid.

This huge tentacled creature grows to 185cm long, can weigh up to a 45kg, and watch out for that dangerous beak. In the Pacific there has been a population boom.

Bruce Robison of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute uses an unmanned submarine to study the giant species where it hunts.

"They squirt ink and grab anything in sight," he says.

The squid's usual territory from Chile to Mexico has expanded dramatically over the last seven years. Once rarely seen off California, they are now strong-arming their way toward dominance.

"This is an extraordinarily rapid change," says Mr Robison.

The betting is that this population explosion of giant squid is somehow related to global warming, but exactly what is going on remains a mystery of the deep.

"It seems to be succeeding as the climate's changing," says William Gilly, Stanford University.

Mr Gilly says one thing is for sure the squid are not picky eaters.

"They can pretty much eat anything they want," he says.

And right now, millions of them are consuming whatever they can find off the California coast, even salmon. As the squid eat what we like to eat, our menu may change.

"You will get accustomed to eating less salmon and more squid - I can guarantee that," says Mr Gilly.

For fishermen that means the tug on the end of the line may have tentacles instead of fins.

"They are big, and they fight hard," says Mr Robison.

Our one defence against this giant squid invasion may be to eat them as quickly as they are eating everything else.

CBS / 3 News


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