Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 1, pp 25–31 | Cite as

Preying on commercial fisheries and accumulating paralytic shellfish toxins: a dietary analysis of invasive Dosidicus gigas (Cephalopoda Ommastrephidae) stranded in Pacific Canada

  • Heather Elizabeth BraidEmail author
  • Jonathan Deeds
  • Stacey Lea DeGrasse
  • John James Wilson
  • Josephine Osborne
  • Robert Harland Hanner
Original Paper


In fall of 2009, several mass strandings of Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas) occurred on Vancouver Island (49°7′60N 125°54′0W). Morphological dissections coupled with DNA barcoding of stomach contents revealed Sardinops sagax (Pacific sardine) and Clupea pallasii (Pacific herring) as their primary prey. Plastic nurdles, fishing line, bull kelp, eelgrass, and a guillemot feather were also discovered. The primary prey, Pacific sardines and Pacific herring, are known to bioaccumulate paralytic shellfish toxins (PSTs); additionally, both PSTs and domoic acid (DA) have been implicated in other mass strandings. Therefore, stomach contents, and other tissues when possible, were tested for PSTs and DA. Testing revealed DA concentrations below regulatory guidance levels for human consumption, yet PSTs were well in excess. Though we cannot conclude that PSTs were the definitive cause of the strandings, our findings are the first report of PSTs in D. gigas.


Stomach Content Prey Item Digestive Gland Domoic Acid Mantle Length 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank the following people for their insights and comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript: Timothy Bartley, Amanda Naaum, Elizabeth Clare, Robin Floyd, and Kevin Kerr. Andy Braid, Joan Rafter, and the people at VIA Rail assisted in transporting the specimens. We would also like to thank the kind people at Takis’ Taverna for storing our specimens in their freezer while logistical transportation issues were being resolved. We acknowledge the University of Guelph URA and Work Study programs for support of HB, as well as funding from the Canadian Barcode of Life Network via Genome Canada (through the Ontario Genomics Institute), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, for sequencing and informatics support as provided by the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario.

Supplementary material

227_2011_1786_MOESM1_ESM.docx (31 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 32 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather Elizabeth Braid
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Jonathan Deeds
    • 2
  • Stacey Lea DeGrasse
    • 2
  • John James Wilson
    • 1
  • Josephine Osborne
    • 3
  • Robert Harland Hanner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Integrative BiologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.US FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied NutritionCollege ParkUSA
  3. 3.Raincoast Education SocietyTofinoCanada
  4. 4.The Earth and Oceanic Sciences Research Institute, School of Applied Sciences, Auckland University of TechnologyAuckland CityNew Zealand

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