Biologists at the University of Manitoba are hot on the trail of an elusive creature that lurks in the depths of the Canadian Arctic: the Northern Squid.
“We don’t know how many exist in the Arctic Ocean,” says Kathleen Gardiner, a PhD student in biology at the University of Manitoba. “But gathering data on their habitat will help us understand the effects of climate change on these and other marine species.”
The Northern Squid are found throughout the Arctic and in Hudson Strait and Davis Strait in the Canadian Arctic, Gardiner explains. Their bodies are only about a foot long, minus the arms and tentacles, and much of their body mass is contained in their liver. The squid play an important role as a food source for other Arctic species such as whales, seals and cod. But their distribution and numbers are largely unknown, and there are indications that other potentially competing species are moving north into cooler waters as the Arctic warms.
Gardiner and her advisor and co-author Terry Dick have been collecting data from a variety of sources and plotting the distribution so that a better understanding of the squid’s extent can be calculated. They note that a change in the number of squid in the Arctic, or a shift in their distribution, can have a very significant effect on other species.
Gardiner hopes her work can point towards habitat management for these creatures of the deep. “Once we find the ‘hot spots,’ breeding grounds and feeding grounds, we can protect these areas,” she says.
This research was published this week in the journal Polar Research.
For more information, contact Kathleen Gardiner at: 204-997-3242