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BC salmon angler snags 6.5 foot, 44-pound jumbo


October 7, 2004

Angler snags first jumbo flying squid found in British Columbia


VICTORIA, British Columbia -- What Gudy Gudmundseth wanted was salmon. What he got has made scientific history, the first Humboldt squid to be recovered from British Columbia waters.

The 6 1/2-foot, 44-pound Dosidicus gigas or jumbo flying squid, a purple-bodied cephalopod with two eyes, eight sucker-covered arms and two curly tentacles, occupies a formaldehyde tank at the Royal British Columbia Museum.

"It seems silly to get excited about a dead squid," said James A. Cosgrove, the museum's manager of natural history, "but it has such great implications.

This is an animal that should be down in South America, not in British Columbia or Alaska."

Gudmundseth said he and a friend were trolling for salmon with herring bait Saturday when they hooked what they first thought was a halibut off the east coast of Vancouver Island.

When a fiery red creature popped to the surface, they thought they had a Pacific red snapper. Then they saw tentacles and thought it was an octopus.

As the creature came closer to the boat, Gudmundseth realized it was a squid and tried to net it so he could set it free.

As Gudmundseth tried to extract hooks from the squid's beak and eye, the squid attacked with its tentacles, changing from bright red to brilliant white to brown to bright red again and back to brown in the struggle.

"It was quite a light show," Gudmundseth said.

Figuring the squid was too injured to survive, he put it on ice and reported the find to a Canadian fisheries officer the next day.

"She told me not to eat it. She told me it could be a rare specimen," he said, "so now I've donated it to the museum."

Cosgrove noted that a Humboldt squid was picked up in Alaska on Sept. 24 and others have been reported in Washington state and Oregon, raising a number of scientific questions.

"Why are they here? Why has the water column changed? And what else has come with it?" he said.

There have been two recent reports of offshore fishermen believing they spotted great white sharks near Vancouver Island.

"If there are warm-water squid in our waters, there's no reason there wouldn't be other warm-water animals as well," Cosgrove said.

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