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Huge Squid Wash Ashore Near Long Beach

Huge Squid Wash Ashore Near Long Beach

Huge Squid Wash Ashore Near Long Beach

LONG BEACH – When hundreds of giant squid washed up dead on the Long Beach Peninsula last weekend, Dean Marsh knew exactly what to do: He stocked his freezer.

“No sense letting them go to waste,” said the 57-year-old bait salesman, who planned to cut them up and sell them to fishermen.

An estimated 1,000 to 1,500 Humboldt jumbo flying squid – typically found off the coast of Mexico – have washed up on southwest Washington beaches in the past few days, said Greg Bargmann, a marine fish manager with the state Fish and Wildlife Department.

What’s killing them isn’t clear.

“They’re like salmon: They spawn and then they die,” Bargmann said. “I don’t know if this is post-spawning, or if the waters got so cold they couldn’t take it anymore.”

Tuna fishermen first reported seeing the squid about 30 miles off the southwest Washington coast in August. At the time, the ocean water was significantly warmer than usual – 67 degrees, instead of 50 to 55 degrees.

Ever since, the squid have surprised anglers as far north as Sitka, Alaska. One salmon fisherman in British Columbia hauled in a 6½-foot, 44-pound squid this month – a specimen that’s now in a formaldehyde tank at the Royal British Columbia Museum.

“I’ve talked to some knowledgeable people who have lived on the coast for a long time, and they’ve never seen anything like this,” Bargmann said. “We don’t know what’s causing it but it sure is interesting.”

People have even started fishing for the giant squid. The Fish and Wildlife Department passed an emergency rule allowing people to keep one squid weighing more than 10 pounds. The ordinary limit is 10 pounds total, but many of the jumbo flying squid weigh more than that.

Some people have called Bargmann to ask if they can eat the dead squid they find on the beach.

“I sure wouldn’t eat them. It would be like eating a deer on the side of the road,” he said. “But if you catch them live they’d be good.”