Big squid vs. global warming

I got to know famed squid expert Clyde Roper while working at the Smithsonian Institution in the mid-1990s on the Ocean Planet exhibition. His life-long, Ahab-like pursuit of the giant squid is the stuff of legend within the oceanography and marine biology communities.

I thought of Clyde while writing this post…Apparently, climate change is predicted to affect the habitat of the Humboldt squid (left), which is one of the largest predators in the Pacific Ocean. This is according to a study published in Monday’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. You can read the abstract of the study on this page.

Increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels is also expected to increase CO2 in the world’s oceans and make them more acidic. By 2100, these higher CO2 levels could squeeze the squid’s habitable area between the highly acidified waters at the surface and too-low oxygen levels in deeper waters.

The result, researchers report, will be that the squid may become lethargic and more susceptible to predators and less able to capture prey than at present, which may force them to migrate elsewhere.

The research was led by Rui Rosa of the University of Lisbon in Portugal.

Bob Swanson & Doyle Rice, USA Today, 16 December 2008. Article.

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