Hundreds of squid are washing up on the Pacific coast of North America — and one onlooker spotted one lying helplessly onshore in Santa Cruz, California.

Why are the jumbo squid washing up on beaches?

William Gilly, professor of biology at Hopkins [Marine Station], suspects that during El Niño years, squid venture out of their normal breeding grounds in Baja’s Sea of Cortez. The warm nutrient water of El Niño years pushes out the cold, nutrient-rich water that sustains the squid.

"When they re-colonize an area, the vanguard usually goes through this kind of stranding behavior," said Gilly, who has studied the Humboldt squid for more than two decades.

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