Dosidicus gigas (Humboldt or jumbo squid) (Orbigny, 1835) is the largest ommastrephid squid, reaching up to 1.2m mantle length and 65kg in weight. This pelagic squid is endemic to the eastern Pacific Ocean and is particularly abundant in the highly productive waters of the California and Humboldt Current systems, and the Costa Rica Dome upwelling region.
The intra-specific population structure of D. gigas is complex, since this species quickly responds to environmental variability driven by El Niño and LaNiña events in both current systems by rapidly changing its biological characteristics, such as somatic and reproductive investment. Oocyte development is asynchronous and the potential fecundity averages around 18–21 million oocytes; the maximum value estimated (32 million oocytes) is the largest ever recorded for any cephalopod so far. Hatching occurs between 6 to 9 days after fertilization at 18°C, but temperatures below 15°C and above 25°C do not allow complete embryonic development. D. gigas passes through a post-hatching paralarval stage called the rhynchoteuthion and during this stage the two tentacles are fused into a well-developed proboscis. During the paralarval and subsequent juvenile stages Humboldt squid have a monthly growth rate of up to 80 mm in mantle length, and grow up 60 mm per month in the later stages. This is the highest growth rate reported for any cephalopod species, and enables this species to reach the reported maximum mantle lengths in a short lifespan (12 to 24 months). Although the lack of population structure across its large range suggests a high level of gene flow and substantial horizontal migration, specific migratory pathways in the Pacific Ocean have not yet been demonstrated. Long-distance migration is an important element in the life-history of Humboldt squid and may be associated with differential growth rates and size and at full maturity.
The recent poleward range expansion of D. gigasis likely associated with warmer periods following El Niño/La Niña events, an ongoing expansion of the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) in the Eastern Pacific, and changing ecosystem interactions including food availability, competition and predation. Humboldt squid feed primarily on small mesopelagic (midwater) fishes, crustaceans, and cephalopods as well as commercially important coastal fishes and squid in the recently expanded range. Typical daily behavior involves vertical migrations from near-surface waters at nighttime to mesopelagic depths above or within the OMZ during the daytime. Whereas the OMZ restricts the depth distribution of many competing vertebrate predators to the upper surface layers due to limited hypoxia tolerance, D. gigas circumvents similar restrictions via metabolic suppression. In addition to its critical role both as prey and predator in the eastern Pacific, D. gigas is an economically important species and the target of what has recently become the world’s largest invertebrate fishery.
Authors: Rosa, Rui, Yamashiro, Carmen, Markaida, Unai, Rodhouse, Paul, Waluda, Claire M., Salinas-Zavala, Cesar A., Keyl, Friedemann, O'Dor, Ron, Stewart, Julia S., Gilly, William F.