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Squid gather for party of a lifetime

Scuba divers are racing to capture a once-a-year event in the Rapid Head Marine Park Sanctuary Zone in order to record how marine animals are using marine sanctuary zones.

Squid gather for party of a lifetime

Scuba divers are racing to capture a once-a-year event in the Rapid Head Marine Park Sanctuary Zone in order to record how marine animals are using marine sanctuary zones.

 

In coming weeks the divers from the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) will be counting thousands of white, noodle-like eggs which are laid after squid (Southern Calamari) have mated.

 

DEWNR marine parks senior scientist Dr Simon Bryars said the research divers have to act fast.

 

“The squid are gathering in the waters of the Rapid Head Marine Park Sanctuary Zone, near Rapid Bay just south west of Second Valley.

 

“This peak in spawning activity will only last for a few months, with the squid mating with as many partners as possible, and then dying.

 

“Squid have just this one window of opportunity to continue the species - they really do ‘live fast and die young’.”

 

To ensure the squid in the Sanctuary are left alone, staff from Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges will be conducting patrols during November and December.

 

Regional coordinator of marine parks Jon Emmett said the patrols were aimed at preventing illegal fishing in the sanctuary zone, in order to protect the squid during this important breeding time.

 

The Rapid Head Marine Park Sanctuary Zone includes about four kilometres of coastline around Rapid Head and covers about 50 square kilometres of water. A map of the Encounter Marine Park including the Rapid Head Sanctuary Zone is available on the marine parks website at www.marineparks.sa.gov.au

 

“Because Rapid Head is now a sanctuary zone with increased protection, we expect there will be more adults and eggs around compared to areas outside where fishing is still allowed,” Mr Emmett said.

 

“This is a crucial time of the year for the survival of the species, and we hope everyone will remember that fishing is not allowed in South Australia’s marine sanctuaries.”

 

Once eggs hatch, the baby squid will remain close to shore for several months then move out to deeper water where they can indulge their huge appetite.

 

They eat nearly anything that moves, even other squid if no other food is available. Squid are excellent swimmers and are able to use jet propulsion to avoid predators. They can also squirt a cloud of ink to create a ‘smoke screen’ to confuse predators.

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