“Humboldt Invasion in the Fog” – Global Climate Change?

I woke up Monday morning to take the dog for a walk along Mackenzie Beach in Tofino where I stumbled across a very strange site. There where a number of Humboldt squid that had washed ashore and  I was a little concerned. Being an advocate of the marine world and priding myself on having a fairly good understanding of the marine ecosystem; I at first thought they looked like Humboldt squid but knew they did not live in the cooler waters this far north. Humboldt squid have been a species I have been fascinated with ever since I saw a documentary by National Geographic in which they where trying to determine their maximum potential size. This documentary speaks about how aggressive this species can be and how a 4 -6′ squid could easily overpower a human. A species that must be treated with a lot of respect during a dive in the Sea of Cortez; especially a night dive when they are out hunting!

I took a number of pictures and took a trip down to the Wickaninnish Interpretive Centre to ask some of the local experts and they did not have any answers as they had not seen this species before. Later that night we had a discussion with a couple of local boaters who mentioned strange alien water sightings for the past week.

Later I learned that more than 150 Humboldt squid had washed ashore along the coast from Ucluelet to Tofino.Biologist Josie Osborne with the Raincoast Education Society said the immature juveniles were found on the Tofino shore Sunday night and throughout the day Monday.

“Some biologists report that this expansion in range may be linked to climate change,” Osborne said.Similar “mass strandings” to the one at Chesterman Beach have happened on beaches in the United States.

In 2004, dozens of Humboldt squid, a predator normally found in warmer southern waters, were stranded on Long Beach, Wash. Three weeks ago, dozens more washed ashore in La Jolla, Calif.

“What probably happened is that a large school of these predatory squid were chasing their prey, mackerel and herring, which are this far north because of the warmer ocean waters common to El Nino events,” Osborne explained.

“Normally, these squid are found in at least 200 metres of water, but these immature squid probably came near the surface, perhaps encountered colder water or currents and became stranded on the beach.”

This information combined with stories of infrequent bear sightings by tour operators and surfers talking about the unusually warm water has increased my fear over the global warming crisis. Tofino has always been a very special place to me and I am saddened to see these global events impacting one of my favourite destinations.