Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Bad dreams from the deep
There's widespread excitement about some pretty blurry photographs of a giant (eighteen metre) squid taken some nine hundred metres down in the ocean (Live giant squid caught on camera).
Architeuthis and its cousin Mesonychoteuthis are the stuff of dreams - mostly nightmares as men have projected their fears on the animals in an environment beyond their control, and more recently as surreal fantasies in an industrialised world where people feel more physically secure (see, for example this image from - where else? - Exquisite Corpse). More bizarrely and grimly, they have even functioned as mules in the drug trade.
But the real magic of these animals is revealed by the science: they hunt by means of bioluminesence in dark waters, and battle with sperm whales - mammals like ourselves.
And the real nightmare, as the BBC reports, may be that bottom trawling in the deep oceans is destroying squid breeding grounds, wiping out the animal and so starving the whales which depend on them. This would be the real snuff movie.