Authorities began removing hundreds of tons of squid that washed up on a beach in southern Chile and were in a process of decomposing, police said Friday.
Since these sea creatures began arriving on the beach of the town of Tome Thursday night, police and local authorities estimate that a total of some 500 tons of the squid have washed ashore.
Known by the scientific name "Dosidicus gigas" or popularly as the Jumbo, or Humboldt, Squid - this type of mollusk is found in almost the entire Pacific coast and can grow to a size of between 50-140 centimeters (20-55 inches) and a weight of between 20-50 kilos (44-110 pounds).
The large number of squid on the beach initially provoked curiosity and surprise among tourists and residents of the area, but their presence became a growing nuisance, as the animals' remains rapidly decomposed in the summer heat. Local authorities organized cleaning crews, who used several trucks to remove the squid.
Although experts are unsure of why the squid washed up on the beach, it is believed that high water temperatures were the cause.
The regional health ministry has begun distributing notices to tourists and residents of the affected coastal areas, warning them not to consume the squid and dead fish that washed ashore.
"The consumption of these products, which have already begun decomposing, could cause food poisoning and outbreaks of gastroenteritis. For this region, people are warned not to consume any of these marine species," regional Health Ministry official Hugo Rojas said.