According to the Australian science journal, Australasian Science, ocean warming due to climate change and fisheries depletion due to over-fishing have allowed squid populations to explode. The researchers claim that the global biomass of squid now exceeds that of humans.
"This trend has been suggested to be due both to the removal of cephalopod predators such as toothed whales and tuna and an increase of cephalopods due to removal of finfish competitors,'' said Dr Jackson.
"The fascinating thing about squid is that they're short-lived. I haven't found any tropical squid in Australia older than 200 days.
"Many of the species have exponential growth, particularly during the juvenile stage so if you increase the water temperature by even a degree it has a tremendous snowballing effect of rapidly increasing their growth rate and their ultimate body size.
"They get much bigger and they can mature earlier and it just accelerates everything.''
Cephalopods such as squids and octopus have remarkably sophisticated brains, and are able to solve complex puzzles. Jaron Lanier, in a talk I saw him give a few months back, suggested that the only reason cephalopods don't dominate the planet is that they don't pass along learned behaviors to their young through acculturation (as do primates). Global warming and over-fishing may well have given cephalopods the leg-up -- tentacle-up? -- they need to take over.
I, for one, will now feel much less guilty about eating ika when I have sushi.
(Via Charlie Stross' Diary)
Michael Crichton is probably at work on his quicky exploitation novel already:
Day of the Sucker