Dozens of Jumbo Squid Beached After Quake--Coincidence?

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Squid Stymied by Change in the Water?

Jumbo squid strandings have been seen around San Diego before.

In July 2002 thousands of the blue-red creatures washed onto area beaches. In the following months similar mass strandings were reported all along North America's Pacific coast, as far north as Alaska.

Like whale and dolphin strandings, the causes of squid beachings are a mystery.

"We've got a couple of ideas, but basically we don't know," Staaf said.

One theory is that the squid can be disoriented by rapidly changing water temperatures.

"The water temperature [around La Jolla] has been a little weird lately," Staaf said. "If the squid were in really warm water, but then it suddenly got very cold, that could be confusing for them."

Another possibility is that the beached squid had ingested dangerous amounts of a toxin called domoic acid. Produced by ocean plankton, the toxin can become concentrated in squid prey.

Staaf and her colleagues have collected the bodies of some of the stranded squid and plan to study their stomach contents.

"We're going to try to figure out if there's toxin in them."

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