Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sea Monsters: "An Incredibly Rare Find"

I'm kind of fond of big animals. Gorillas, whales, mastiffs, they all give me the urge to just grab and hug. My favorite Animal Planet "Growing Up..." show is the one with Maximus (yep, like in Gladiator) the baby elephant whose mother was afraid to let him sleep. Proving that just because you have instincts doesn't mean you know what your doing. Get a grip girl. But it was all OK in the end with young Max. Unfortunately, today's massive critter didn't fare so well.

In July of this year the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, was conducting a study on sperm whales and what they eat in the Gulf of Mexico. While cruising along they caught something big in their trawling net and hauled it up from a depth of 1,500 feet. It was a giant squid 19.5 feet long and 103 pounds. Unfortunately, being yanked out of such deep water does a number on animals and our tentacled friend came up bug-eyed and dead. Not so good for him.

For centuries, seamen have told tales of giant, multi-armed monsters rising up from the depths and dragging whole ships down. It would probably be an unusual happenstance if it ever happened at all but certainly a squid as big as the one caught in the Gulf could do a number on a small boat if it had a hankering to.

This giant squid is the first caught in the Gulf since 1954, when a carcass was found floating around off the Mississippi Delta. Squid expert Michael Vecchione told reporters : "This is an incredibly rare find in the Gulf of Mexico." He went on to say that giant squid are more common in waters around New Zealand and Spain. Scientists knew that the squid lived in the Gulf, however, because they have found remains of the creatures in the gullets of other Gulf animals like sperm whales.

The squid, whose Latin name is Architeuthis dux, has been transferred to the Smithsonian Institute for further study. Scientists hope that the big guy, who literally gave his life for science, will tell them a lot more not only about his species but about what is going on down there in the very deep (as low as 3,000 feet in some places) water of the Gulf.

Although I've never had the urge to hug a squid, I salute you Architeuthis dux for your sacrifice. I hope a lot is learned from it.


Timmy! said...

Ahoy, Pauline! 103 pounds, that's a lot of calamari. We who are about to eat giant squid, salute you... Errr, no, wait a minute. Maybe they should come out with a big soft "squishable" giant squid like your octopus?

Pauline said...

Ahoy Timmy! I bet giant squid doesn't taste very good. Just a hunch but...