Jumbo Squid Invade San Diego Waters

Jumbo Humboldt squid have returned and scientists are trying to find out why

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCSanDiego.com

    "We're catching anywhere from 200 to 500 a night right now," said Seaforth Sport Fisherman RJ  Hudson.

    In other words, the fishing is good. 

    Every night for the past several weeks, boats have been loading up and heading out to catch the jumbo Humboldt squid off the San Diego coast. The trip we rode along for reeled in more than 300 in less than two hours.

    So, how many of them are really out there?

    Squid Everywhere

    [DGO] Squid Everywhere
    Hundreds of thousands of squid are attracting tourists and fisherman just off the coast of San Diego.

    "Nobody knows for sure, but it's probably at least hundreds of thousands of them," said Nigella Hillgarth, executive director at the Birch Aquarium.

    She says it's been a recent topic of interest for scientists, especially since a decade ago, these squid were almost non-existent off California's coast.

    "I think there's lots of reasons that we see them now and we didn't before, and one of them is that our ocean climate is changing, it's warming," she said. "So, we have much warmer waters coming much farther north.  So, the squid are following their prey."

    This season's El Nino has brought even warmer ocean temperatures for this time of year, which scientists at Birch think may be one reason the squid are especially abundant.  But they also say, the squid may be here to stay.

    "And so after the last big El Nino in 2002, it looks like there was a permanent population of these guys established somewhere off the coast of California," said Hillgarth.

    On board the New Seaforth, 60 plus people were catching squid as fast as they could reel them in, some weighing up to 60 pounds.  It raises the question, how much is too much?

    "Are these squid breeding here. We have some indication that they are, and so it may be fine to fish a lot of them, or we might fish them out." said Hillgarth,  "I don't think anyone knows yet and again I think that's something we need to watch out and be aware of."  She was not aware of any regulations on how many squid any single boat is allowed to take in one outing.

    RJ Hudson says last year, the squid fishing lasted for only three weeks, as opposed to six months in 2008.  So, for now, they say, they'll take what they can, while they can.

    "It's kinda changing every year," he says, "We don't know what to expect, but we're gonna keep fishing them until we don't catch anymore."