My Wildlife Conclave Ceph Adventure

Dec 24, 2002
Hello All,

So, this is my 1000th post.

First off, I’m sorry that its been a long time… okay, a VERY long time… since my last post. A lot has happened since then. You might say that 2006 was a very, very, VERY dark year for me. Some terrible losses and some terrible events happened to me – earth shattering events in their own right, where I am concerned. It led to the eventual depression, and all the wonderful pitfalls of collapsing health and sanity which inevitably follows. I’ll spare you the details. I don’t want pity, I don’t want any special treatment. I’m not the prodigal son.

So… There I was wallowing in self-pity like Achilles in his tent when I read the newspaper. A local guy squawking about global warming. And then another. For weeks, I have read unscientific arguments about scientific issues. I read people dragging science through the mud, doubting its validity, or politicizing it to death. Something in me snapped. I realized that some bizarre forces are drawing a bead on science education issues, and I didn’t have a hand with which to draw a weapon to defend.

I needed to get back on that horse and start writing again. That begins right here, right now.

Oh, I have my hand back. And to quote the good Tenth Doctor “You wanna know the best bit? This new hand... it's a fightin hand!”
Without further ado, here is the first of what I hope to be many posts:

This Spring I attended the 2006 Western Wildlife Conclave. My wife talked me into attending, and even into presenting. I chose fisheries, namely that of the California Market Squid, Loligo opalensis.

My presentation dealt with some issues that I felt were important when dealing with Loligo as a commercial catch. I noted about management issues, the fact that 78% of worldwide squid consumption occurs in China, Taiwan, India, South Korea, and Thailand. Methods of egg mass detection, fishing techniques, and the effects of El Niño years on squid fisheries and the squid fisheries in general. I even discussed the 1996 peak in the squid fishery and their rapid comebacks after apparent crashes. Given the collapse of major fisheries in Calfornia over the past 100+ years, that I found interesting.

My theme was that not enough was known about Loligo, and that perhaps this could lead to greater cooperation between fisheries, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, and marine biology in general.

At the end of the presentation, you could hear the crickets chirp. My fault, really, for presenting in New Mexico, which is a pretty landlocked state, and talking about an animal which I’m beginning to realize is going to be relatively ignored until its gone. I swear I didn’t mean to do this. I really tried to make it interesting, and even had a short film clip of mating Loligo (“Squid Porn”). I explained the importance of the species and how its ecology may be related to the standard teleost fisheries and how conservation studies might make a difference on how we perceive Loligo and its place in the oceans.

Still, the crickets chirped.

The issue with squid conservation is just that – perception. In this game “wildlife” means “backbones only”, and cute & fuzzy means more than alien and tentacle-y. Loligo is an important species in my state - $41 million worth of important. And why do they bounce back so well from sharp declines when fish populations here don’t? Salmon? Slammed. Anchovies? Pounded. Ling cod? Almost out of the woods, thanks to a moratorium on fishing.

What issues will Loligo face? How will current changes, or climate changes affect its population? How many members of any species of squid are being lost as by-catch? Why does the FAO only list squid catch by region and taxonomic group? Will our insatiable appetite for calamari cause a crash? I don’t know.

Neither did any of my sources.

No one asked questions. I really didn’t expect to have any, especially since I had the audacity to discuss squid at a Wildlife program. However, I still think these are important issues and worth further study – at least worth more than a ten-minute PowerPoint presentation.

Any thoughts?
while anchovies, maybe in the same ballpark, i think lumping loligo and ling cod together might not be the most even match life-cycle wise..... even if the genus is close to the keystone for western fisheries....

also, may i humbly suggest you stick to coastal states for conferences... unless you're willing to present my powerpoint on squidyotes....

most importantly.... its good to have you back! :biggrin2:

ps- I just snogged madame de Pompadour!
:welcome: back, and congrats :archi: I don't generally give pity, but if you'll take sympathy and a warm welcome, I've got some of that right here... cheers!

I'm also quite concerned about the re-spinning of science, although I'm going to just mention that instead of sounding off on it much.

I'm not sure I know enough about squid conservation to have an opinion... really, I wish I could have heard your talk, crickets or no. It seems like squids' reproductive strategies make them less prone to population crashes from overfishing than some animals... The short lifespan and huge number of eggs per breeding cycle seems to be a pretty good guarantee of species resilience compared to longer-lived fish. I suspect that it would take a huge (possibly impractical) amount of overfishing to completely endanger the survival of the species, although thinning the population substantially seems like a real concern. Squid are also a very important prey animal for a lot of fish and cetaceans, so I expect that a decline in the Loligo population off the west coast would have a major impact on a lot of other animal populations.

As far as the vertebrate-centric attitudes, I have the impression that cephs are getting a bit more popular in the media, and hence in the eyes of the public, so perhaps there is hope for an attitude improvement. I do have the impression that cultures that eat a lot of them tend to downplay any sympathy toward them, such as the live octopus eating in Asia and fairly unsympathetic attitudes in Greece, Spain, and Hawaii... although cultures that eat a lot of fish tend not to count fish as a "real" vertebrate... In fact, I know a lot of "almost vegetarians" who treat fish as an honorary vegetable.

I think my favorite reason for studying cephs applies in this case as well as many others: cephs are one of the very few animals that has evolved to a sophisticated lifestyle independently from vertebrates. Really, arthropods are the only other invertebrates that have a very active lifestyle and sophisticated nervous system (although I find cniderians and echinoderms and other molluscs are frequently pretty cool, they tend to be slow, and usually sessile or planktonic) I think that understanding the breadth of possibilities for animal strategies is best done by studying the most diverse elements of the animal populations, so that we're not too blinded by misconceptions that the things that are similar to us (vertebrates) represent the "only way things are"-- it's worthwhile looking for differences and similarities between squid population dynamics and that of vertebrates... in cases where there's been convergent evolution, it's more likely to be a general teleological principle, while if 2 fish have the same traits, it may be just and inherited quirk of vertebrate evolution...
paper: squid population, reproduction, growth, and stuff

Pharyngula has an article today on some squid biomass stuff and the like:

referring to a very interesting paper, which includes Moroteuthis as a case study... good stuff:

Home | ATSE

I think I'll crosspost this over in physiology, just in case the moroteuthis fans miss it over here in Marine Conservation...
monty;85435 said:
The short lifespan and huge number of eggs per breeding cycle seems to be a pretty good guarantee of species resilience compared to longer-lived fish. I suspect that it would take a huge (possibly impractical) amount of overfishing to completely endanger the survival of the species, although thinning the population substantially seems like a real concern.

The Loligo fishery has crashed before I believe!

There are some issues with squid fisheries. In many cases subadults are targetted (for the presumably better flesh, some terminally spawning squid deteriorate to the point that my garbage guts spaniel wouldn't eat them!), in the case of Nototodarus sloanii in my study 96% of them were Lipinski stage 4 or less (stage 4 is maturing), a staggering 68% were Lipinski 2 (immature), these were from commercial catches (I just asked for standard pans of squid as they would be shipped to market). There is a prevailing attitude amongst many squid fishers that it's an annual species so "fish it or lose it" they forget it has to reproduce!!!!

In addition trawling, boat props etc etc etc damage the egg masses so they don't hatch.

IMHO squid are just as prone as anything else to fisheries induced crashes!


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