Science

Jumbo squid warm to waters of B.C.

Appearance of warm water giant squid off the coast of Vancouver Island may be sign of climate change, scientist says.

A jumbo flying squid surprised a fisherman in British Columbia, worrying scientists who say its appearance could be another sign of global climate change.

Last Saturday, Goody Gudmundseth hoped to net a couple of salmon off the coast of Vancouver Island in Port Renfrew. Instead, when he felt a tug on the line, Gudmundseth knew he'd hooked into something else.

"When the rod went, I thought we got a really big chunk of weed or something," recalled Gudmundseth. "It was acting really different than usual."

The squid weighs 20 kilograms and measures about 1.5 metres long.

Scientists call it the Humboldt or jumbo flying squid. They said it prefers warm water, which means Gudmundseth's catch is likely a long way from its home in the Gulf of California. The find is fuelling speculation about climate change.

"It may have come up with a tonne of warm water or it might be that they're making their way north comfortably now," said Kelly Sendall, senior collection manager at the Royal B.C. Museum.

Gudmundseth almost decided to keep the squid for bait or to eat it as calamari. The squid has now become a reference specimen for the species in B.C., Sendall said.

Another Humboldt squid was captured last month off the coast of Alaska. Scientists don't know whether the creatures' appearance will be a short-term one, or what effect they may have on the ecosystem.

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