Thursday, September 29, 2005

It came from the deeps.

Often suspected but never captured alive for long, the giant squid has been a staple of underwater fiction for years. We knew of them mainly from the scars they left on sperm whales and their washed-up carcasses on lonely shores. (I always rooted for the whales.) Now, Japanese researchers have finally obtained photos of the beast alive and in action. Worryingly, its behavior "is more aggressive than previously thought." (Scientific American) The squid photographed became tangled on the researchers' probe and left behind a souvenir: 5.5 meters (18 feet) worth of a tentacle.

Quick giant squid facts: (Reuters)


At 11:42 AM, Blogger S|D said...

They said that that tentacle will never regrow, unfortunately. In the Yahoo News article re: this story, they also interview a New Zealand-based marine biologist who has been obsessively studying the squids. One disturbing detail of his past is mentioned, the fact that he captured 17 juveniles of the species to try and raise them in captivity, but every single one of them perished.

Serious questions need to be asked about this last point: Was he legally permitted to catch them? Why so many, why take 17 instead or 2 or 3? If all 17 had survived to adulthood, did he have a facility that could comfortably house 1.5 dozen creatures measuring 26 feet long *each*? Finally, and perhaps most crucially, what percentage of the giant squid population did this 17-creature loss represent?

At 12:19 PM, Blogger pgs said...

It could be worse. So much, much worse.

I seem to recall reading that one particularly obsessed researcher had gone so far as to start working on a submersible that would take him down to giant squid depths. When asked what would happen if the squid attacked and ate him, he said calmly, "Well, I would sit back, relax, and observe its eating habits carefully, and for 30 seconds I would be the only person alive who knew how the squid feeds." Or something to that effect.


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