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Hatching squid at home


Billie Harlow found these squid eggs washed up on the beach near her Campbell River home
Billie Harlow found these squid eggs washed up on the beach near her Campbell River home

Alexandra Pope, staff writer

December 3, 2011 — A Campbell River, B.C. woman is giving squid eggs washed up by a fierce storm a new lease on life.

Nurtured in Harlow's shed, the squid eggs are growing
Nurtured in Harlow's shed, the squid eggs are growing

Billie Harlow is a proud “mom” of dozens -- dozens of squid eggs, that is.

Harlow is raising the eggs in a shed in the garden of her Campbell River home. In a few weeks, she hopes to release hundreds of newborn opal squid back into the ocean.

“I am determined they will live, and when a little bigger, find their way back to their home,” she says.

Harlow found the cluster of tubular eggs washed up on Stories Beach after a recent storm. Opal squid glue their egg sacs to the ocean floor, under rocks or strong sea plants, where they are nourished by oxygen carried in the ocean currents.

If detached from their shelter, the eggs float to the surface and wash up on the shore, where they are eaten by sea birds or crushed by beach walkers unaware of what they are.

After confirming with a local aquarium that the strange sacs were squid eggs, Harlow decided to give them a chance to hatch.

She bought a tub and an air pump to simulate the washing of the ocean current, and housed the eggs in a shed in her garden. She changes the water daily. To her delight, the eggs are growing.

“Some of the tubes are four inches long and you can see little creatures forming now,” she says.

The eggs should hatch within eight weeks, at which point Harlow will release them back into the ocean.

She brushes off suggestions that she would eat them.

“My friends tease me about calamari,” she says. “Oh no, not my babies!”

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