Stories tagged squid

May
12
2010

It begs the question: Does he feel lucky?
It begs the question: Does he feel lucky?Courtesy Sitron
Of course by “sue for libel,” I mean that the squid intends to lure the scientists into the ocean, and then do something just awful to them with all its colossal tentacles. Something just awful.

But why? Why would the colossal squid take a break from its watercolors, topiary, and Little Mermaid-style undersea musical numbers to mutilate hard-working researchers? Because they did the one thing that the colossal squid cannot abide: they sassed.

The colossal squid can handle getting eaten by sperm whales. It can handle getting mixed up with its effete cousin, the giant squid. But it will not tolerate sass.

What do I mean by sass? This headline, based on the scientists’ research: “Colossal Squid Is No Monster, Study Finds.”

What? If a 40+ foot, 1000+ pound, tentacle-covered (or arm-covered, if you’re going to be a jerk about it), deep sea creature with eyes the size of dinner plates doesn’t qualify as a monster, I don’t know what does. The colossal squid works hard at this stuff, and it doesn’t need scientists yapping at its mighty heels (or its muscular hydrostats).

These scientists are saying, in effect, that if one were to “release the kraken,” if that released kraken were a colossal squid, the kraken wouldn’t really do much except float around, and maybe grab at a sleepy-looking fish every few days. They’re saying that the kraken—I mean the colossal squid—is just a big, lazy, slow-moving ocean blob.

Why would you even say that? It’s so mean!

The scientists are basing these claims on research that compares the metabolism of different squids in the colossal squid’s family to their respective body sizes. A squid the size of the colossal squid, they say, would have an exceptionally slow metabolism. That means that the colossal squid would probably move slowly, and require food infrequently. It would also have a relatively low nutritional value, suggesting that it might not be as important a part of the sperm whale diet as other scientists have guessed.

When the colossal squid would hunt, they say it would likely ambush its prey, instead of actively pursuing it. And, you know, I guess, for a hunting strategy like that, it would make sense to have hook-covered arms and tentacles (which the colossal squid has).

Even so, these are fighting words. I mean, the giant squid seems to be a fairly active hunter… but then again the two species belong to entirely different families.

Also, using similar species as direct analogies isn’t necessarily going to be the best way to learn about a creature. There can be quite a bit of variation within a taxonomic family, even, I’d imagine, with a characteristic like metabolism. Look at bears: you’ve got your extinct short-faced bear, which is thought to have been a relatively speedy hunter, and you’ve got your giant panda, which sits around eating bamboo all day.

Obviously I’m stretching here, but I’m just trying to save those poor researchers from violent squid retaliation. (Assuming it has the energy for that. And that is what I’m assuming.)

Sep
16
2008

A colossal squid's ghost: Caught on film for the first time!
A colossal squid's ghost: Caught on film for the first time!Courtesy DYFL
This is nothing new, but Popular Science has a nice little photo series on some of the cool features of the colossal squid.

So check it out here, and keep the giant mollusks foremost in your mind.

Have a hankering for seafood? Check out this video of a public dissection of an immature giant squid. I like the part about it's teeth working like chainsaws.

May
27
2008

Oh, Internet: You always know just what I want.
Oh, Internet: You always know just what I want.Courtesy Mike Monteiro
You know, I can’t be certain that the giant squid are planning on eating us. It may be (stress may) that they simply intend to capture our species to use us as servants. Unfortunately, I’m not a particularly strong swimmer, nor do I think I could hold my breath long enough to do much work for a squid, so I’m kind of hoping that they just plan to eat us.

Regardless of the specifics, the evidence is indicating pretty clearly (to me) that the mega-cephalopods are making their move—giant squid and colossal squid (“giant” and “colossal,” of course, being species, not simply adjectives) are turning up left and right, their huge eyes taking in our every move. Huge dead eyes, sure, but they’re still everywhere.

As it happens, yet another giant squid has turned up in the waters off Australia. Depending on which story one reads, the giant squid was caught while still alive or after it had died (for sure one of those two options, though—I haven’t read any other descriptions). Either way, it seems that the goodship Zeehan, a trawler out of Victoria, Australia, was dragging a net at a depth of about 500 meters late Sunday night. When the crew winched up the net, they noticed “a big ball” about halfway down that was obviously not a fish. No it was a 19-foot-long, 500-pound squid, probably sending a telepathic message to its kin at that very moment, asking them to avenge its humiliation and death.

As usual, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Five hundred pounds? My aunt weighs five hundred pounds. And that colossal squid they thawed out to study a few weeks ago weighed twice that much. Why should I care about this dead squidsie?”

And that, my friends, is where y’all are all messed up.

Do you say. “Well, that sunrise is sort of pretty, but it’s no sunset.” Or, “The Statue of Liberty is big, but Godzilla could still crush it.” No! No you don’t. That would be missing the point of those things entirely. So, yes, the colossal squid specimen technically is bigger than this giant squid, but is it better? Well, yes, but that’s not the point either. It’s a giant squid, i.e. it’s awesome.

If you must ask questions, instead of simply being and enjoying, ask questions like these: Why are we finding more huge squid these days? Is their ecosystem changing in some way that they’re moving into areas where they’re more likely to be caught? Are people fishing more in new areas, or at new depths, and that’s why? Or are we not really catching more squid—we’re just able to find out more quickly and get indisputable proof (nice digital photographs) with all the awesome technology living in the future now allows.

Or, we might ask if there’s anything special about the individual squid that are caught. Are they of a certain age group, or sex? They’re always alone—is that important?

Now we’re pretending like we’re scientists! So get into that sort of thing. Or just chill out and enjoy the squid.

Oh, hey--this gets the prize for the grossest thing I’ve seen yet today. But not in the last week (a grown man eating his boogers still keeps that title).

Jul
25
2007

Squid attack: This squid is a shrimpy two feet long, but monster squid are being found off the coast of central California, eating up the marine life that is vital to the fishing economy of the area. (Photo from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Squid attack: This squid is a shrimpy two feet long, but monster squid are being found off the coast of central California, eating up the marine life that is vital to the fishing economy of the area. (Photo from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Jumbo shrimp is one of those oxymorons that still crack me up.

Jumbo squid now being seen off the coast of central California don’t have anybody laughing.

Humboldt squid, which can grow up to 7 feet long and weigh more than 110 pounds, are gobbling up the anchovy, hake and or commercial fish schools that are a vital part of that area’s economy.

That type of squid used to only be found in the warmer, equatorial waters of the Pacific. But over the past decade and half, they’ve been spreading out to cooler climates and seem to be hitting central California especially hard.

Sounds like another example of global warming, right? Not so fast.

The chief reason behind the squid migration is probably food supply. They’re adapting to the cooler waters due to other fishing practices, researchers say.

Predators of the Humboldt squid are primarily tuna and swordfish. As their numbers have dropped due to high fishing pressures in the northern Pacific, the squid now have more room to roam to find their own food, researchers say. And with the new territory, they’re acquiring a taste for new aquatic species as well.

Planning to take a California vacation yet this summer? Don’t worry about a squid attack on you. Despite their large size, these jumbo squid are still pretty low on the food chain and have no interest in consuming humans, or any other mammals for that matter.

Jul
25
2007

These three stories are all about weird fish.  No, not the restaurant in SF, but the wet kind.: Photo by lawgeek at flickr.com
These three stories are all about weird fish. No, not the restaurant in SF, but the wet kind.: Photo by lawgeek at flickr.com

I surf the web. I read the blogs. I see stuff that looks interesting, and I file it away, They accumulate, they reach critical mass, and they burst forth in full, horrendous flower.

Which is a roundabout way of saying, I’ve seen a few interesting articles on marine life lately, and rather than write three separate posts, I thought I’d wrap them all up into one.

Octosquid

Scientists in Hawaii have discovered a new deep-sea creature with the arms of an octopus and the mantle of a squid. Dubbed “octosquid,” it was caught in the filter of a deep sea pipeline.

Hungry squid invade California

Humboldt squid, a giant predator that can grow 7 feet long and weigh up to 110 pounds, has expanded its range into central California. It normally hangs out in tropical waters from Peru to Costa Rica. But fishing pressures have reduced its natural predators – tuna, swordfish and sharks – resulting in a squid population explosion. They have moved north into new territory. Humans, seals, otters and other mammals have nothing to fear, but the squid do eat large amounts of hake, anchovy and other commercial fish.

Sea monsters

Check out this photo gallery of weird, cool creatures of the deep.

Jul
29
2005

Australian scientists believe that the elusive giant squid,
Architeuthis dux, may indulge in cannibalism. The diet of these mythical creatures, enshrined in myth as ferocious beasts that overturned boats and devoured sailors, has previously been difficult to study. No giant squid has ever been examined alive, and the digestive systems of most studied specimens have been emptied. But researchers from the University of Tasmania, Australia, have now analyzed the gut contents of a male giant squid caught by fisherman off the west coast of Tasmania in 1999. They've found three tentacle fragments and 12 squid beaks, along with other macerated prey. "This strongly suggests cannibalism," says team member Simon Jarman of the Australian Antarctic Division in Kingston, Tasmania. The only other prey species identified was a fish, the blue grenadier.

The question remains: is this intended or accidental cannibalism? New Zealand scientist Steve O'Shea believes it's the latter. "The male giant squid has to use a puny 15-gram brain to coordinate 150 kilograms of weight, 10 metres of length and a 1.5-metre-long penis," he says. "He physically plunges this penis into the female's arms, which are rather unfortunately right next to her beak. Because he is coordinating so much with so little, I think occasionally bits get chewed off when they inadvertently get too close to the beak." Despite this theory, other members of the squid family, like the jumbo squid, Moroteuthis ingens, have been known to eat members of their own species.

May
25
2005

In recent weeks, scientists have announced the discovery of not one, but two new mammals species:

Scientists describe new species all the time. But usually they're really small, like insects, or live in hard-to-reach places, like under water. New mammals are rare. These two species both come from remote jungle regions, and are shy, timid creatures that avoid humans.

Interestingly, both species were well-known to local people. So these species aren't really "new" — they're just "new to science."

Mar
18
2005

More than 100 dead jumbo squid have washed up on the California coast since Sunday. Scientists haven't yet figured out why.

Humboldt squid normally live and hunt 3000 feet below the ocean's surface. This year, they seem to be swimming north from Mexico, following food sources that are bringing them closer to the surface and the shore.

Some scientists think that overfishing in Mexico may be reducing the amount of food available for the squid, forcing them to migrate into Southern California. (The squid may be confused by sand churned up by tides.)

Other scientists are studying the contents of the squids' stomachs, trying to determine if they're being poisoned somehow. (Large numbers of dead squid washed up on the shore in the same area in January, about a week after an oil spill from an undetermined source coated seabirds off the California coast.)

Research continues...