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Last Updated: Friday January 21 2005 10:06 GMT

Jumbo squid invade American beach

Big squid
Hundreds of large squid are washing up on beaches in California, USA, much to the confusion of scientists.

No-one knows why the creatures, which can get up to 1.8m long, are beaching themselves in Orange County.

"These things are invading, and we don't know what's going on," said an expert in ocean life.

A similar plague of the jumbo squid was reported further down the coast near San Diego in 2002.

Between 500 and 1,500 of the sea beasties - thought to be Humboldt squid - have strewn themselves along the Californian coast.

A dead squid on Newport Beach, California
A dead squid on Newport Beach, California
Although they are good hunters underwater, with powerful tentacles and a sharp beak, they aren't a threat to people.

But because the dead squid began washing up on Tuesday, authorities have warned they could carry germs - and can still squirt out ink.

Lots of possible reasons for the wave of slimy creatures have been thought up, including recent heavy rain, large shoals of fish near shore and strong tides.

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