Could Warming Lead to Squid Boom?

"The species seems to be pretty adaptable to temperature, so if temperature opens up new niches, they just move in," he said. "They're not picky."

Not All Squid Are Alike

But other squid experts point out not all cephalopods may do well in warming conditions. Steve O'Shea, a senior research fellow at Auckland University in New Zealand, says squid that reside mostly in surface waters may be more flexible than those that hover in the ocean's permanently chilly deep depths. And cephalopods that hang out in colder regions of the globe, like the colossal squid (the largest known squid that has been found off the coast of Antarctica), may be more vulnerable to temperature change.

"A warming of the oceans could also result in the demise of cold-water, deep-sea species of squid," he said.

He adds that fishing isn't only affecting fish species. Cephalopods are often snagged in nets and trawlers who drag nets on the ocean floor can destroy clusters of their eggs.

"Seven species of octopus and squid in New Zealand waters are already considered extinct or seriously impacted by deep sea fisheries," he said. "This is the opposite side of the coin."

Jackson says despite the uncertainty about colder-water cephalopods, he has no doubt that a shift is under way.

"We're replacing one ecosystem -- fish -- with another -- cephalopods," he said. "There's no way of knowing what impact that will have."

Forsythe suggests one consequence could be a change in the American palate.

"In North America, squid aren't that popular yet," he said. "But when fish are $10 a pound and squid are $4 a pound, people will start to say 'Hmm, wonder if I can find a good recipe for that?'

"I think that's inevitable."

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...