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Squid outta water

Posted: Tuesday, Sep 22nd, 2009

Students investigate the mysterious beaching of squid on Heceta Beach.

Hundreds of miles from their territory, squid are washing up on Oregon and Washington shores.

If you can’t take the heat — or in this case, the smell — get off the beach! Approximately 50 Humboldt squids, also known as Red Devils or Jumbo squids, washed up on Heceta Beach early Tuesday morning near Driftwood Shores resort.

As word spread about the sea creatures’ sudden appearance, Siuslaw High School Science Teacher Mary Dodson decided to bring her Field Studies class to the beach to examine the squids.

“It’s great learning experience,” Dodson said. “We don’t see this kind of thing very often, not live anyway.”

Her class of juniors and seniors spotted one particular squid, several feet in length, wrapped in a U.S. Marines jacket. The name “Carkhuff” was stitched above the upper left pocket.

“When the squid was found by the marine biologist, the jacket was left here and it was wrapped up, which is probably why it was so well preserved,” said Dodson’s daughter, Jessica, a sophomore at Oregon State University.

The person who left the partial uniform, however, remains a mystery.

Dodson’s students took the squid, carrying it by the jacket, back to the high school for educational purposes. The class, as well as the anatomy/ physiology class, plans to dissect the deep-purplish creature.

“We’ll first learn about it, identify all the parts and then possibly dissect it to see what else we can learn,” she said.

Humboldt squids are typically found in California waters, but the species has recently spread north to Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. They can grow up to seven feet long.

According to Dodson, warm weather — and warmer waters — is a possible cause for their sudden appearance on the Oregon coast.

“The warm weather we’ve had made our water a little bit warmer and possibly brought the squids up to the surface,” she said.

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