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The Giant Squid:

squid

(genus: Architeuthis)

In days of yore, tales of the giant squid sparked legends of giant, boat-eating sea monsters. “Unleash the Kraken!” And at forty-three feet long, lurking in the deepest depths of the ocean, with eyes the size of dinner plates, and seen alive only a handful of times, this real life monster lives up to its legend. Did I mention the 8 arms and two extra-long tentacles all-lined with serrated suction cups that lock onto prey, then bungee it back into it’s parrot-like beak! In my book Architeuthis is the Queen of the Ocean (females are bigger than males). So much cooler than a plain ol’ shark (except Megalodon, of course). The Discovery Channel should have a Squid Week instead of Shark Week. Ok keep shark week, but add Squid Week. Yeah!

Cephalopods in general are just neato. They use their complex brains to change color, using chromatophores, to communicate. Check out a Humbolt feeding frenzy sometime (spoiler- there’s cannibalism). And some use color change as camo. The cuttlefish is one of my favs. They can match the exact rock or sand color and pattern that they’re swimming above. I wish I could do that.

me as a cuttlefish

Once I shared a magical moment at the Georgia Aquarium with a cuttlefish that was changing colors while I was staring at him. Imagine my horror when I returned and discovered they’d switched out the coolest cephalopod in the aquarium with some lame hermit crab equivalent. Why!

Back to giant squids, so most of the time we glimpse this elusive predator like this. A giant, color-less, heap of tentacles and fly-buzzing stench, a mere shadow of its true squidly glory.

squid washed up

But finally after sitting through endless drawn out, 2-hour, commercial-filled “the search for the giant squid” tv shows that always end with, “and the mystery is still out there” ... THEY FINALLY CAUGHT ONE! Ok it was a few years back and granted it was more like “fishing for the giant squid” cause they just hooked him and you got to see flashes of angry tentacles and suckers flailing about.

They still have a long way to go on capturing any sort of natural behavior. There are some clues, from their arch-nemesis the sperm whale. Apparently the whale sees the giant squid as a delicious snack, worth diving to the bottom of the ocean for. They’ve found lots of giant squid beaks in the stomachs of sperm whales. But they’ve also found giant squid sucker marks all over the whale. So I like to imagine a well-matched, epic battle going on 20-thousand leagues under the sea, between the two super beasts and that sometimes, the squid vanquishes his whale foe! (this squid fantasy has no truth to it, scientists believe the whale always wins.)


Squid vs. Whale (artists interpretation)

squid vs whale drawing
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