High-Energy Jumbo Squid at Risk With Warming
Dec. 18, 2008 -- Jumbo squid are long-distance commuters. Every day, these gangly creatures migrate more than 500 hundred vertical feet. It's a high-energy lifestyle -- and one that's going to suffer as a result of global warming, according to a new study.
Squid now appear to be joining the list of marine creatures at risk from rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As the oceans absorb some of this CO2 load, pH levels drop, and the water becomes more acidic.
Previous research has shown that ocean acidification makes it harder for corals, mollusks and other calcifying organisms to build skeletons and shells. The new study suggests that the effects of acidification are more complicated and far-reaching than many scientists expected.
"For the first time we've definitively proven important negative effects of high carbon dioxide levels on uncalcifying organisms like squid," said Rui Rosa, an animal physiologist at the University of Lisbon. "We've proven that CO2 will have a tremendous impact on their ability to move by the end of the century."
Not to be confused with the mysterious giant squid, which can exceed 40 feet in length, jumbo squid (Dosidicus gigas) are common and well studied. Also known as Humboldt squid, these animals can grow up to 2.5 meters (8-plus feet) long and weigh up to 50 kilograms (110 pounds). They are a commercially important fishery catch in Mexico and South America.
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