On Monday, July 26th, a Humboldt squid, (Dosidicus gigas) washed up on the beach of Discovery Bay. Peter Downey, from Discovery Bay Shellfish, lugged it off the beach and brought it over to the Marine Science Center for closer inspection.
Since we already have a specimen in our freezer for educational purposes we jumped at the opportunity to dissect this latest find! Also known as the "jumbo squid" or "jumbo flying squid", Dosidicus gigas remains a bit of a scientific conundrum. Since we conducted the dissection outside on the pier, we had a fairly large crowd and many on-lookers expressed shock that a squid this large was found in our local waters. This shock is well placed; the range of the Humboldt squid previously extended only as far North as San Diego but in recent years these cephalopods have been found as far North as Alaska! The exact reason for this massive expansion in range is still unclear but researchers at the Gilly lab at Stanford University attribute this shift to climate change. Able to thrive in oxygen-poor zones, Humboldt squid seem to be benefiting from the increased numbers of "dead zones" believed to be one manifestation of climate change's effects on wind patterns and ocean stratification.
Whatever the cause of our squid's demise, it provided an excellent opportunity for education and discovery here at PTMSC! Thanks to Discovery Bay Shellfish for bringing it in!
To see more photos of the squid's dissection and to learn a bit about squid anatomy, watch this cool video: