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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Thar she... thaws?

Well my Brooksie faithful, I owe you an apology.

You see, almost exactly a year ago, I (in my eternal geekiness) got quite excited at the news of a very large squid that had been caught off the shores of New Zealand's south island in the Ross Sea. Not only was it cool (to me, anyways) because this was the largest colossal squid ever landed, but it reminded me once again how little we know about the vast 'inner space' contained within our oceans. Judging from the sizes of some squid beaks recovered from the stomachs of whales, and now comparing to the size of the beak of said squid above, there are even bigger ones still out there.

This squid was brought aboard the vessel in nearly pristine condition and, once ashore, was promptly put on ice at none other than my favourite museum, Te Papa. There it was to wait until the global scientific community had all been alerted and could coordinate their schedules and line up the appropriate research projects so that they'd all have a crack at this leviathan once she thawed out. Because, once thawed, she would have to be studied in her entirety as the squid would not then be able to be re-frozen and re-thawed like some reusable ice pack.

This past week she has finally been dragged out of deep freeze and allowed to thaw, and all week teams of scientists from around the world have descended upon Te Papa in Wellington to study her. And it turns out the squid is indeed a she, as they soon found out among other interesting things, such as the fact that her eyes are the size of footballs.

Now that's one big Mesonychoteuthis!

You can follow the fascinating (I think so, anyways!) developments here at Te Papa's site devoted to the subject. As you can see, soon the general public will be able to go to the museum to see the squid up close, suckers and all.* I can't wait to see how they conduct the presentation, as this is the sort of subject that I find very interesting indeed! I'm a scientist by trade, specifically in the animal sciences, so it's in my wheelhouse. This is also the stuff of ancient sailors' legends from many different cultures, not to mention pop culture such as the big squid featured in Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.

Speaking of which... man do I really miss that ride at Disney World!

Anyways, I am apologising because I failed to write about this nearly a year ago when I had originally intended to. Had I done so, I could have 'scooped' this in the blogosphere at large, yet my lackadaisical approach to the field of Investigative Casual Tourist Reporting means that I have buried the lead in my slowly growing file of 'draft' posts!

Then again, I am not really a tourist here anymore. I am a local! And as such, I think I'll be heading on down to Te Papa as soon as they've got that squid all prettied up and put on display.

From what I've seen so far, everything our museum does is top-notch, and I can't think of a better place to have had the good fortune to display the world's largest landed colossal squid than Te Papa.
*I am not, of course, referring to the members of the general public as suckers here! I'm talking about the ones on the squid's tentacles, natch.


Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Thanks, Brooksie, for expanding my knowledge. Until today, I only knew two things about squid: (1) (from a TV program on the Nature Channel) they sometimes grow large enough to fight with whales and (2) an ex-girlfriend became very ill after eating it in a Chinese restaurant.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Brooksie said...

Hey sure Nick, glad to have ya back, hope the PC is cooperating! Sorry to hear about your ex-gf getting sick, I am amazed these scientists didn't get sick after sampling this squid on their own!

10:09 AM  

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