Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Elephant Seal prey

Humboldt Squid are a frequent prey hunted by elephant seals. They are a warm water species, but National Geographic reports in the August issue that their range is expanding. The map shows their range in 1984, 2001 and 2005.

The research is being done by William Gilley of Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station, http://www-marine.stanford.edu/. I met him when he led a squid dissection at Camp Ocean Pines in 2008, http://www.topp.org/blog/slimy_squid_science. That workshop was so successful that it has been expanded into Squid for Kids, http://gilly.stanford.edu/outreach.html. They'll send free squid to any group that wants to dissect them, along with lesson plans and other support.

The expansion of the squid's range could affect other fish and marine mammals. This species is a fierce hunter and voracious eater, growing to as large as six feet long and weighing up to 80 pounds. The one I'm working on in this picture isn't that large, but it was big enough to make an interesting dissection.
National Geographic Channel will broadcast a documentary about them July 30, Dangerous Encounters: Cannibal Squid.

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