Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Attack Of The Giant Luminescent Squid

"Captain, what will we do? The giant squid has swallowed the mini-sub, and Jenkins and the Foster girl are trapped inside. We've got to save them." Cartwright clutched his chest and let out an agonized moan as he pled with the captain to find a way to save his lost ward. "How will I ever face her father again?" "Shut up, Cartwright," the captain commanded tersely. "Don't you know what this means? That creature's mother is still out there. If we try to leave this cave we're all doomed." Both men sank into fearful silence as the reality of their situation inexorably overcame all other considerations. There would be no escape from the glowing monster that waited to devour the Sea Queen and all aboard her, drawn by the secret, experimental, bio-nuclear power source that gave her life. Their very strength would be their downfall, and their watery playground would be their grave.

Mmmm, bad sci-fi... I'm a sucker for it. Who can resist the attack of a giant killer squid? Not me. I don't, however, know much about marine biology, outside of various televised misrepresentations from science fiction, and the occasional documentary from the Discovery Channel. I do find the topic interesting, though, and I found this article at, by Catherine Brahic, and its links to real undersea video (not the Hollywood kind), educational and worth tossing your way. The article tells of the first-ever video of a large deep-sea squid, the Dana octopus squid, and what scientists have learned from the encounter. Brahic says that the squid is bio-luminescent, with "bulbs" at the end of two of its arms, and that, "...the Japanese researchers who caught the squid on camera think they may have seen it attempt to communicate with the small torches they were dangling along with the bait in front of their underwater camera."

There are three short film clips linked from Brahic's article. They all took a while to load, and are dark and under-watery, but the third one in particular was pretty cool. It's a video of the Dana squid attacking the halogen spotlight of the underwater camera used to film it. Turns out that, whereas scientists used to think large deep-sea squid were sluggish and somewhat passive, they are actually quite quick and aggressive. Like I said, marine biology isn't really my thing, but since the giant squid brought back fond memories of really bad old sci-fi flicks, it lured me in. Actual video of a giant squid attacking undersea vessels?!! Neato.

Oh, by the way, the Foster girl and Jenkins saved the day. The girl, who was the only clear-thinking person under the sea that day, suggested reversing the polarity on the armour plating (whatever that means.) Jenkins crawled through the super-heated coolant tubes to manually adjust the predictably frozen controls, and that did the trick, causing the baby giant squid to "reverse course" on the digestive front, and cough up the mini-sub like he'd had too much cotton candy at the squid fair. They passed the news on to our somewhat-less-than-heroic captain, who finally slunk out of the cave with his bio-nuclear-powered tail between his legs. They discovered that Mom was really an alien from the planet Arthritis, and learned how to communicate with her using a disco ball and some rope lights. Turns out she's a big Hugo Chavez fan, which started a whole new series of problems, sure to lead to a sequel. The end.