|Oregon Coast Notes|
|Squid invasion hitting Oregon coast and scientists are concerned, but could there be a silver lining?|
By Lori Tobias for The Oregonian
Last year when fish surveyors went out to count whiting -- Oregon's largest fishery by volume -- they found plenty to count all right, but it wasn't what they expected.
Instead, they found themselves looking at so many Humboldt squid, they couldn't see the whiting -- also known as hake -- to get an accurate count, said Selina Heppell, an associate professor in fisheries at Oregon State University.
"People are really worried about this," Heppell said. "Because we have evidence of squid having a negative impact on whiting in Chile, the concern is that they could be affecting whiting here."
Humboldt squid typically were found in Southern California, Mexico and the waters off Chile and Peru, but in recent years the jumbo squid have been found in increasingly large numbers in northern waters off California, Oregon and Washington -- even Alaska.
Now researchers and fisherman are pondering a number of questions about the predator squid: Why are they here? What will it mean to traditional fisheries such as whiting and salmon? Will they stick around?
And there's another possibility: Could the jumbo squid spawn a new fishery in Oregon and beyond?
People first reported seeing squid north of their native waters in the late 1990s after the El Niño occurred in about 1998, Heppell said. After last year's numbers proved so dramatic, Heppell and researchers in California and the Pacific Northwest decided the time had come to learn more. Earlier this year, they received a two-year, $120,000 grant from Sea Grant, a federal university-based program to support coastal resources, to study them.
"To me, what we really want to know is what the squid are eating at different times of the year," Heppell said. "How many are there? They move fast and over a wide range and are not easy to detect with acoustic gear. Trying to estimate how many squid there are is not an easy thing to do."
There is a lot more to read... Oregonian Article