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Danna StaafRSS Feed of this column.

Cephalopods have been rocking my world since I was in grade school. I pursued them through a BA in marine biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, followed by a PhD dissertation at... Read More »

What is the point of a fishery quota if, in the years when you actually reach it, you petition the government to increase it--because there are just so many darn fish, and it would be a shame not to catch them all?

The annual quota for California market squid is so high that usually it's never reached, and therefore the fishery stays open all year. But this is the second boom year in a row, and fishers have actually caught the full 118,000 tonnes. So, time to close the fishery.

Or not.

As reported by Ed Zieralski,
Just got back from giving a presentation on Humboldt squid in Modesto. The audience had wonderful energy and the little kids had the BEST questions. Winners:

  • Third place: "What is the smallest squid?" (It's like he knew I'd just been blogging about Idiosepius!)

  • Second place: "Which squid has the most tentacles?" (Entertaining, of course, due to the assumption that squid have variable numbers of tentacles. And why shouldn't they?)
My thesis is now officially half published*! Can we have a party or something?

Marine Ecology Progress Series has just put out my paper, "Effects of temperature on the embryonic development of the Humboldt squid Dosidicus gigas." Or, as I said in the title--Baby Squid Like it Warm.

Just-hatched baby squid next to unfertilized egg. 
Ruler increments are millimeters. 
That's very small.
At the end of 2011, the second season in a row of a suddenly and mysteriously booming market squid fishery, Michael Vincent McGinnis of the Santa Barbara Independent offers a thoughtful commentary. He makes a particular point of the holistic value of market squid:
The presence and abundance of the squid in California marine areas are of paramount importance to the millions of fishes, birds, and mammals that compete for this resource with human beings. The market squid is a principal forage item for a minimum of 19 species of fishes, 13 species of birds, and six species of mammals. . . .
The California market squid fishery is about to be closed for the second time in its entire history.

That may sound bad, but it's actually a sign of a booming business. The annual quota for market squid is 118,000 tonnes, a number so high that for years no one was sure it would ever be reached. But just last year, an abundance of squid led the fishery to be closed on December 17th, and this year it's due to close a month earlier: November 18th.
I've been to Tasmania a couple of times; it's certainly a hot spot for squid research. And also, it turns out, for the squid themselves.