Monday 23 May 2016

Squids and octopuses thrive as 'weeds of the sea' warm to hotter oceans

Squid, cuttlefish and their relatives appear to benefit from ‘live fast, die young’ mentality as study shows cephalopods have thrived over past 60 years

Monday 23 May 201619.09 BSTLast modified on Monday 23 May 201622.43 BST

Octopuses, cuttlefish and squid have thrived in the world’s oceans over the last 60 years despite – or because of – human activity that has warmed oceans and reduced fish populations.

An international team compiled a database of cephalopod catch rates, and found that even though the creatures reproduce in diverse ways – some hatch and live near the sea floor, others are born and die moving up and down the water column – around the world, nearly all are steadily increasing.

“Cephalopods have this ‘live fast, die young’ life history strategy – the rock stars of the sea, if you like to call them that,” Bronwyn Gillanders, the project leader and a marine biologist at the University of Adelaide, told the Guardian.

Her colleague and the lead author of a study released on Monday, Zoe Doubleday, had a different analogy.

“Cephalopods are often called ‘weeds of the sea’,” she said, because their “rapid growth, short lifespans and flexible development” let them adapt to environmental changes more quickly than other marine animals.

This rapid life cycle, Gillanders said, means cephalopods can “proliferate quickly, perhaps with advantages over longer-lived organisms”.

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