News from a cephalopod conference:
The bizarre sex life of the giant squid is one of the topics at an international cephalopod conference in Hobart this week.
Marine biologists are continuing to unlock the secrets of the giant squid, saying the deep-sea monster may not be a cannibal as previously thought.
It was thought the species was cannibalistic when parts of a fellow giant squid were found in the stomach of a specimen caught off Tasmania’s west coast in 1999.
But New Zealand based marine biologist Steve O’Shea believes that was the result of some bizarre mating methods.
He says the creatures do not mean to eat each other but the females accidentally bite bits off of the males during mating.
Posted on February 17, 2006 at 4:04 PM •
There’s a Cephalopod Conference going on right now in Hobart, Australia. It’s the Cephalopod International Advisory Council International Symposium. (I’ll bet you didn’t even know that cephalopods had an international advisory council. Or what they need advice about.) In the coming Fridays I hope to present some of the more interesting papers from this conference.
Posted on February 10, 2006 at 4:04 PM •
It’s not a squid this time, but an octopus.
Rare video footage shows a giant octopus attacking a small submarine off the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Posted on February 3, 2006 at 2:53 PM •
In 2002, a 60-foot long giant squid washed up on the beach in Tasmania.
Because of the low number of observations, scientists have struggled to build up a profile of the giant squid, discovering only in the last five years how it reproduces.
It is believed they rarely have an opportunity to mate, and live isolated lives, but it is still unknown where the squid fits on the food chain.
The giant squid is a carnivorous mollusk with a beak-like mouth strong enough to cut through a steel cable and its eyes are the largest in the animal kingdom—growing up to 45 centimeters (18 inches) wide.
The giant squid is believed to feed on, among other things, the world’s biggest animals with several eyewitness stories from fisherman who have seen the squid in fierce battles with whales.
Dead whales have been found washed up on beaches with large sucker marks on their bodies, apparently from squid attacks.
Posted on January 27, 2006 at 4:08 PM •
“The Squid Seller’s Call” by Matsuo Basho (1644-1694):
The squid seller’s call
mingles with the voice
of the cuckoo
Translated by Robert Hass.
Posted on January 20, 2006 at 3:38 PM •
It’s from last September, but it’s the biggest giant squid news in years—a live giant squid caught on camera:
In their efforts to photograph the huge cephalopod, Tsunemi Kubodera and Kyoichi Mori have been using a camera and depth recorder attached to a long-line, which they lower into the sea from their research vessel.
Below the camera, they suspend a weighted jig—a set of ganged hooks to snag the squid—along with a single Japanese common squid as bait and an odour lure consisting of chopped-up shrimps.
At 0915 local time on 30 September 2004, they struck lucky. At a depth close to 1km in waters off Japan’s Ogasawara Islands, an 8m-long Architeuthis wrapped its long tentacles around the bait, snagging one of them on the jig.
Kubodera and Mori took more than 550 images of the giant squid as it made repeated attempts to detach itself.
The pictures show the squid spreading its arms, enveloping the long-line and swimming away in its efforts to struggle free.
Finally, four hours and 13 minutes after it was first snagged, the attached tentacle broke off, allowing the squid to escape. The researchers retrieved a 5.5m portion with the line.
See also this article from Nature.
Posted on January 13, 2006 at 2:17 PM •
A squid that cares for its young:
But a team of ocean scientists exploring the inky depths of the Monterey Canyon off California has discovered that at least one squid species cares for its young with loving attention, the mother cradling the eggs in her arms for months, waving her tentacles to bathe the eggs in fresh seawater. The scientists suspect that other species are doting parents, too, and that misperceptions about squid behavior have arisen because the deep is so poorly explored.
“Our finding is unexpected because this behavior differs from the reproductive habits of all other known squid species,” the scientists wrote in the Dec. 15 issue of Nature. “We expect it to be found in other squids.”
Posted on January 6, 2006 at 3:23 PM •
Promachoteuthis sloani is a new type of squid, discovered in 2006 in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
Posted on January 5, 2006 at 3:11 PM •
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.