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Stanford researchers follow mystery of squid migration as sea creatures appear further north in Gulf of Alaska

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) — If you come across a California market squid, it might be on your plate. But when Stanford researchers stumbled upon the sea creatures, it was a more unusual location – in the waters of the Gulf of Alaska hundreds of miles north of their normal habitat on the West Coast.

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“Yeah, their typical range would basically stretch from Washington State to Baja, California. And yeah, they jumped quite a bit, starting around 2015, all the way to the far northwest Gulf of Alaska,” says marine researcher Benjamin Burford. , doctorate

Burford, was working as a graduate student at Stanford when he began studying migration north. He found that the highly adaptable squid not only expanded its habitat, but managed to continue growing to full size at the same time.

“They have the ability, instead of having to like to reach a specific size or age to mature and reproduce, they can adjust that based on the conditions that they’re going through. And so often what you’ll see are squids that grow in really bad conditions like heat, not a lot of food, they will mature to very small body sizes,” he says.

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But at full size, he says Alaskan squid have the ability to hunt small fish, which could impact populations of baby salmon and other marine life.

In recent years, marine biologists have noted a number of other marine species, such as juvenile great white sharks, extending their range further north to waters near Monterey. Theories have focused on climate change and warming ocean temperatures.

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Stanford marine science professor Mark Denny says the forces could be even more complex.

“What’s one of the big messages from Ben’s article is that you can’t just watch the water temperature rise. So they’re moving, you know, well, you gotta have, you know, competition with other And, and lower oxygen levels and things like that, to explain, all you need is images that you can get to get to, you know, some predictability with these things,” says Professor Denny.

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They say everything is essential to understanding which species might be on the move in the coming decades, as well as where they might end up. And just as important, the impact they could have on everything from fisheries to local ecosystems once they become established.

“Who are they eating? Who’s eating them? Who are they competing with? Things like that…because when you see an animal, a new animal, and a new ecosystem, they’re basically taking resources from that ecosystem. It’s nice from a pessimistic perspective, but like, you know, their growth and abundance gets their energy from somewhere,” Burford says.

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