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Between the The Blue and The Deep Blue Sea.
April 27, 2008 6:43 PM   Subscribe

Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni - Colossal Squid (caught here in MetaFilter most recently....). Another one, caught about a year ago off Antarctica, was put on ice.... It is being thawed and scheduled to be examined along with a Squidcam!

The last link in the post takes you to the available feeds. There is no firm timetable for this event, and there may be a great deal of waiting for something to happen. I apologize if this occurs. As of this post the preliminaries are over, but the main examinations are still coming up: Tuesday, 29 April: Examination of giant squid specimen; afternoon: examination of small colossal specimen.

Wednesday, 30 April: Wednesday 10 am - 2 pm: examination of large colossal specimen; 2 pm fixation of specimens in formalin These are Wellington times.
posted by Kronos_to_Earth (37 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fig. 3: tentacle club of Mesonychoteuthis, with swiveling hooks.

This always gets me. I think my mammal brain forgets it on purpose every time I learn it.

Note to self: Screaming under water is totally even more useless than on land.
posted by loquacious at 7:00 PM on April 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


Mmmmm, calamari.
posted by DenOfSizer at 7:10 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


*encounters BBC News picture, begins screaming*

Yeah, I've been in the ocean a whole lot. That is pretty much the exact last animal I'd ever want thinking I was food or threat. You could actually maybe fight off a shark. Punch it in the nose or maybe it would choke on you or something. Hey, maybe get rescued by a dolphin that doesn't want to molest or rape you.

Squids are basically equal parts underwater rocket, meat-shredding factory, and killer biological robot with 8 arms, with an extra pair of extra long ones with extra meat-shredding bits just for good measure. I can't imagine the armspan and speed and manuverability those big squid must have. I've seen videos of the medium-small ones in the Sea of Cortez near Baja, and I've seen smaller ones in bait tanks and in the ocean, and those things can move.

Imagine with me here. You're floating in the water, diving down about 150 or 200 feet or so. You see flashes in the dark below. In the murk you see ripples, like a large school of fish, just hanging there, waiting just far off enough to not really be seen clearly, sun-rays and ripples making it all move and flicker the way the ocean does, even down a few hundred feet or so.

The school or shoal of fish suddenly lunge upward together, and then the ripples stop and flash together a solid, dark red - nearly black in the deep blue water and for a few seconds you have no way to comprehend the outline you're seeing spread and warp in front of you, the shape making no sense at all.

Holy mackerel! Arms! Giant freakin arms lined with hundreds of suckers with rotating freaking meat-hooks looming around you like a net or cage! Which way do you swim!? How fast are you!?

The web looms closer as you pivot and thrash about, looking for an exit but the arms are already all around you, closing in and you swear you can hear and feel the beak clacking together through the thick water as you turn and stare at it in terror - and just then finally you see a giant, fathomless eye staring at you just between two arms, right above the webbing.

You catch your breath as you peer back and realize - this underwater-rocketing killer robot has a mind and it is very old and hungry. Now, now you start screaming.
posted by loquacious at 7:29 PM on April 27, 2008 [22 favorites]


Granted, none of the above is very likely to happen unless you have a habit of diving in extremely deep and freezing Antarctic water, and even then.

I just know I'm not going to be able to swim in the ocean without thinking of them.

posted by loquacious at 7:32 PM on April 27, 2008


Even better:

Deep-sea squid are frequently transparent in life, the tissues turning opaque shortly after death

It's an INVISIBLE giant, intelligent, multi-armed, swivel-hooked eating machine!
posted by yhbc at 7:47 PM on April 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeK

that.

is.

all.
posted by liza at 7:54 PM on April 27, 2008


Great post. We here on Metafilter love our colossal squid. And Obama.
posted by LarryC at 8:41 PM on April 27, 2008


DAYUM. If those creatures ever figure out how to live on land...hoo boy. We be in trouble.

Interesting to see one of 'em go up against a great white shark. Any takers?
posted by davidmsc at 9:07 PM on April 27, 2008


You catch your breath as you peer back and realize - this underwater-rocketing killer robot has a mind and it is very old and hungry. Now, now you start screaming.

If you soil yourself before you're eaten, turn to page 78.
If you try to punch the squid in the beak, turn to page 80.
If you try to punch the squid in the beak and then soil yourself, turn to page 81.
If you are now terrified of swimming in the ocean put down this book and run screaming from the beach never to return.
posted by supercrayon at 9:17 PM on April 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


loquacious, your description captures nicely the fear, respect and arousal that competes in me to be 'first emotion in reaction to giant cephalopods!'

Kronos, another awesome post - thanks!

Paging Ubu, it's really time to paste that link to the dinosaur comic on jet-powered squids, isn't it?

What, my turn? Okay

This is pure sex.
posted by cosmonik at 9:33 PM on April 27, 2008


you beat me to it!

well, maybe they're friendly? maybe they just want to be your friend?
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:53 PM on April 27, 2008


but here's another one, also featuring damned sinister raccoons.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:59 PM on April 27, 2008


well, maybe they're friendly? maybe they just want to be your friend?

No, I'm afraid they don't.
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 10:14 PM on April 27, 2008


It's an INVISIBLE giant, intelligent, multi-armed, swivel-hooked eating machine!

Oh, that helps so much. That settles it. We'll just have to drain the oceans. It really is the only way to be sure. I figure a bunch of ground and space based solar panels, a few space elevators, etc. We'll put all the water in orbit in a big tube. Sure, it'll take forever but we'll just be patient and stick to solar panels until we invent fusion or vacuum energy or something. While we're down there we can clean up all that plastic and recycle wrecked ships and so on.

Meanwhile, we're going to have to eat a whole lot of tire-sized calamari. Seriously, if these things figure out how to fly or use tools or something we're goners. They'll be better DJs then us, they could take 4 or 5 of our jobs at a go and... wait, did you hear that?

Listen. Ninja squid. Heavily armed invisible flying amphibious ninja squid.
posted by loquacious at 10:28 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Squid: they don't love you back.
posted by cosmonik at 10:33 PM on April 27, 2008


Squid thaw rescheduled

Damn, Kiwis party hard.
posted by dhartung at 12:20 AM on April 28, 2008


"tire-sized calamari"

Nope, they have heaps of ammonia in their flesh for bouyancy. They won't taste good at all.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:49 AM on April 28, 2008


Oh yeah.

A couple of years ago I was pottering in a tidal estuary at Kawau Island, and I saw a fallen leaf in a little puddle of seawater. Except it was moving. I bent over and discovered it was a tiny squid, not even two inches long. It had got left behind by the outgoing tide. I scooped it up and it jetted pathetically in my hand. I walked 20 yards down to the water's edge and put it back in the sea. It paused for a second and then voomed off faster than you could see.

I like to think that one day, I'll be in danger in the sea, and that squid will come with all his mates and they'll heroically bear me back to land. Don't be spoiling my fantasy with that underwater killer robot shit.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:39 AM on April 28, 2008 [6 favorites]


The scifi novel Manifold: Time by Stephen Baxter takes the cephalopod nightmare one step further:

"Genetically engineered squids designed to operate (. . .) space probes go renegade and begin colonizing the solar system. "
posted by protorp at 4:40 AM on April 28, 2008


Thanks for that, Protorp - i was wondering if this idea has been mined very completely [Matrix robots were sort of squid-like, but the real deal would be more frightening to me].

Any other squid-related horror novels out there? Don't say Cthulhu.
posted by phylum sinter at 6:19 AM on April 28, 2008


Yes, please, don't say Cthulhu.

Not horror, but 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea! Here's a link to that and some other SF SquidStuff....
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 7:17 AM on April 28, 2008


Their eyes wouldn't be invisible though, would they?
posted by asok at 7:33 AM on April 28, 2008


"Colossal" squid is such a lost opportunity. We had the giant squid, so clearly the next one up should have been the GINORMOUS squid.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:44 AM on April 28, 2008


They're examining a "small colossal" specimen. Is that kind of the opposite of a "jumbo shrimp?"
posted by binturong at 8:25 AM on April 28, 2008


The first rule of Tentacle Club of Mesonychoteuthis, with Swiveling Hooks is - you do not talk about Tentacle Club of Mesonychoteuthis, with Swiveling Hooks.
posted by malocchio at 9:00 AM on April 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


the second rule of tentacle club of mesonychoteuthis, with swiveling hoo....



JESUS MARY MOTHER OF GOD I DON'T BELIEVE IN YOU BUT PLEASE SAVE ME FROM YOUR BEASTS OF HORROR!

do you think the colossal squid is simply god's schadenfreude-like response to the flying spaghetti monster? "Noodly Appendage? I'LL show you a noodly appendage!"
posted by CitizenD at 10:53 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


They're examining a "small colossal" specimen. Is that kind of the opposite of a "jumbo shrimp?"
FWIW, i've seen a baby giant clam before...very cute. sparkly, multicolored.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:59 AM on April 28, 2008


From the associated blog: "Colossal squid have swivelling hooks, whereas this giant squid has suckers. The suckers are about 25mm across! The suckers have serrated teeth at the edge and can cut flesh."

It's like these creatures were created by someone who'd read too the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual too many times.
posted by xchmp at 1:16 PM on April 28, 2008


Thanks for posting this. For some reason, was not caught by my vast network of readers who funnel squid related news to me. I'll be watching me some squidcam!
posted by ikahime at 3:42 PM on April 28, 2008


"It's like these creatures were created by someone who'd read too the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual too many times."

Yeah, just think of them as underwater Beholders with permanent invisibility and flesh-flaying beaks, but instead of eye stalks they have prehensile appendages which can both suck and saw you...

...and now to hunt down that Stephen Baxter novel mentioned upthread. Just so I'm ready when the Eye is upon us.

ia! ia! cthulhu! f'thagn! ouch!
posted by cosmonik at 4:09 PM on April 28, 2008


It may be worth mentioning that there are some rather grisly seabeast and the like populating the Steampunk-esqe worlds of both China Mieville and Jeff Vandermeer (and the label is simply a maybe... i'm still not sure what this steampunk thing fully entails).


Rou Xenophobe sayeth: "Colossal" squid is such a lost opportunity. We had the giant squid, so clearly the next one up should have been the GINORMOUS squid.

I imagine the next scale up from Colossal would be able to swallow our whole planet, thus negating our need to name it at all.

Let's see what happens on the 30th!
posted by phylum sinter at 4:13 AM on April 29, 2008


Man, giant squid are so sci-fi. AND TERRIFYING.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:07 AM on April 29, 2008


My work (NZPA) have some good photos of the squid thawed at our news photo site.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 6:31 PM on April 29, 2008


Supersquid's a giant ... and not fully grown (Sydney Morning Herald story on the same...includes more photos!)
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:08 PM on April 29, 2008


Mark Fenwick, a technician at Wellington's Te Papa Tongarewa Museum where the squid will be housed, admitted that scientists had yesterday snacked on part of another colossal squid being examined today.

"It was almost like a tua tua, you know a cockle. It was very nice. It left a real taste in your mouth and stayed for quite a while," he said.

"It was very much like [sashimi]. This is a gourmet meal. I don't know anyone else who has eaten Mesonychoteuthis."

Dr O'Shea said eating the squid was one way to determine whether the colossal type had ammonia in its system, as the giant squid does.

"The interesting thing about it is that it was non-ammoniacal. It tasted good, apparently," he said.

posted by UbuRoivas at 9:10 PM on April 29, 2008


Damnit UbuRoivas, I was just going to post that! I'm so proud of my country. If we want to know whether something has ammonia in, we don't piss about - we just eat the damned thing.

Incidentally, tuatua are NOT cockles, but what other English speakers would call clams.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:57 AM on April 30, 2008


Thank you for the news photo link, Samuel Farrow!
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 11:43 AM on April 30, 2008


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