Friday, May 25, 2012

Elephant seal prey

Humboldt Squid are one of the elephant seal's prey. National Geographic magazine reports in the August 2011 issue that this large species, up to six feet long and weighing up to 80 pounds, is expanding its range. The likely reason is warming ocean temperatures. They prefer warmer waters but have now been found as far north as Alaska. This map shows their range in 1984, 2001 and 2005.

More squid could mean additional prey for them, but the relationship is always more complex than that. Ocean temperatures warming and the effects of acidification due to absorption of CO2 present unknown challenges. A varied ecosystem is always stronger and more resilient than one dominated by fewer species.

The changes reflect research by Dr. William Gilly of Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station, He led the squid dissection we participated in two years ago at Camp Ocean Pines. His research helps to establish what is happening now and monitor changes. NASA's JPL posts maps of ocean temperatures.

National Geographic has a video about them. Truly, this is the definition of a sea monster.

Danna Staaf blogs about squid at Squid a Day.  Everything you could possibly want to know about squid and their world!

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