The disappearance of the Humbolt Squid (Dosidicus gigas).

Another important and incredibly valuable use of the Trident ROV will be to work in much deeper waters. The Gulf of California (more properly Baja California) once held seemingly unlimited numbers of one of the largest cephalopods, a squid, known as Humbolt's squid (Dosidicus gigas). Humbolt was a famous 17th-century polymath (basically good at everything!) who explored central and Latin American extensively. Amongst other pioneering work he discovered and described one of the largest squids to be found anywhere in the world.

This squid is a ferocious predator that can easily get to 2m in length - see picture - and has a very nasty beak, so nasty that divers have had to wear chain mail diving suits to dive with them, as our friend Luke Inman is doing in the photograph. They used to be superabundant in Baja California but due to over-fishing they have seemingly all but disappeared.

It may be that they have gotten smaller (known as fihseries induced evolution) so no longer caught, or they have changed their behavior, or actually gone altogether. It is striking that every scientist I spoke to on my visit to La Paz a few weeks ago asked me what I thought had happened to them. So, with so many people keen to find out, we will use the ROV, and less fancy light trapping kit, to investigate whether these amazing animals have gone forever.

Image courtesy of Luke Inman featuring himself and a large Humbolt squid (Dosidicus gigas).

Originally posted on National Geographic Open Explorer to shelldwellingoctopuses.

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