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giant squid
Beachgoers pass a giant squid that washed ashore on January 19, 2005, in Newport Beach, California.
(David McNew/Getty Images)

Giant Squid Take California
By Kate Tuohy

Thursday, March 24—A mystery is brewing in Southern California. More than a hundred giant squid have washed up along local beaches since Sunday.

Biologists are baffled by the sight of the strange, slimy creatures, and are searching for answers. They cut open and examined a 5-foot-long, 15-pound female squid at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, California.

Examining the contents of the giant squid's stomach could provide much-needed answers. Some biologists believe the squid's food was being poisoned. Others think that the giant squid are swimming north from Mexico to follow food sources, forcing them to come closer to the surface and shore.

"All we have right now are theories," said Linda Blanchard, lab director of the Ocean Institute.

Mystery Solved?

Squid are deep-ocean dwellers. They normally live and hunt 3,000 feet below the water's surface. The giant squid can release an inky cloud when in danger and has an eye remarkably similar to that of a human's.

As biologists scurry for answers, beachgoers and local residents are on the lookout for the beached squid.

"The squid were really large, about the size of my leg. I saw about a dozen squid spread over about a half mile of beach," said Oceanside fire chief Jerry Abshier.

Though scientists cannot figure out why the squid are washing up ashore, they are excited at the chance to learn more about them.

"Before the squid were found on the beaches in the quantities that they have, we weren't studying them as hard as we are now," Blanchard said.


In Search of Giant Squid
Check out this online exhibit from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History to learn more about the giant squid.

Kaikoura at National Geographic.Com
Learn about giant squid when you visit this site from New Zealand's Kaikoura Canyon. Don't forget to watch the squid movie!