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Count Zarth
01-17-2005, 05:22 PM
By DARRIN McGRATH / Special to the Sunday Herald

ST. JOHN'S - Late one night in early December, Paul O'Driscoll was listening to an open-line radio show in his Conception Harbour home when one caller grabbed his attention.

"It was about 11 p. m. at night when I heard the report on the radio that there was a giant squid ashore at Colliers," Mr. O'Driscoll said in a recent interview.

"Colliers is the closest community to Conception Harbour, (about forty-five minutes west of St. John's) so myself and my cousin Bob Richard went over to see it.

"Bob teaches natural science at a private college. so we took some measurements by flashlight," Mr. O'Driscoll said of the events of Dec. 5. "But because the waves were tossing the squid around pretty good, we decided to take the specimen home before it washed back out to sea."

The men strained to lift the slimy 90-kilogram female squid from the churning surf as they struggled to keep their footing on the round beach stones.

They finally managed to wrap the squid in a tarp and wrestled it into the back of Mr. O'Driscoll's car.

The next day, the men turned their find over to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

A scant three weeks later, on Dec. 22, a male giant squid, weighing slightly less than the female, was recovered from waters near Triton, Notre Dame Bay, on Newfoundland's northeast coast.

This is the first time in over 20 years that giant squid have been recovered off Newfoundland, and the find has generated a lot of media interest.

Discovery Channel Canada is filming a short special about the two squid and the necropsy conducted by DFO.

According to producer Sonya Buyting, it will air Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. "It will be shown on Daily Planet, a science program on Discovery Channel," Ms. Buyting said.

"Discovery was very interested in the fact that one of the two squid was a male, which is very rare," said Kevin O'Leary, who headed up the film crew. "Usually, the specimens recovered are females."

Ms. Buyting says she was intrigued by the chance to look inside a giant squid and show viewers what makes the secretive masters of the deep tick.

The two beasts, about six metres long, were dissected last Tuesday by DFO research scientist Earl Dawe. He was joined at the necropsy by other researchers and marine biologists from Memorial University and private colleges.

Mr. Dawe said they spent about three hours dissecting the squid.

"There weren't too many surprises with the results, although we think that the female of the pair had some material in her stomach," Mr. Dawe said.

"We froze the entire digestive tract and will examine it later. Usually, giant squid are found with empty stomachs."

It's thought that the squid's beaks are so sharp that they grind and pulverizes their food - fish - into minuscule fragments that are easily and quickly digested, Mr. Dawe said.

Between 1964 and 1982, 11 giant squid were recovered from Newfoundland's northeast coast. All were dissected by biologist Fred Aldrich, and the necropsies all had very similar results, Mr. Dawe said.

Though Mr. Dawe found nothing startling when he compared Tuesday's results to those of Mr. Aldrich, it was the first time he had dissected a giant squid, so it was a learning experience.

All the squid's internal organs were contained within a big reddish-brown sack. Mr. Dawe and his fellow researchers think that neither specimen was fully mature, and that neither would have been able to mate.

While the bodies of giant squid have been discovered along the eastern seaboard of North America and on the Scotian Shelf, most of the specimens have come from waters off Newfoundland's east coast.

Mr. Dawe says Newfoundland is one of five places where giant squid remains are most commonly found. The others are Japan, Norway, Australia and New Zealand. It is likely that the strong ocean currents near each site wash the dead squid ashore.

While scientists have no idea what killed the two giant squid, nor why the two specimens turned up within three weeks of each other, Mr. Dawe suspects that slighter warmer ocean water may have played a factor.

"In 2004, the temperature of the ocean was warmer than average. This also occurred in the 1960s, when we recovered several squid. So this may be factor, but this is a hypothesis, not fact," Mr. Dawe cautioned.

Only half the finds of giant squid in Newfoundland between 1964 and 1982 were of single specimens in one year. The other half are cases in which more than one specimen was found in the same year.

It also known that the females are bigger than the males. This characteristic is believed to have evolved because the females have to bear so many large eggs.

All the giant squid that have been discovered around Newfoundland have been found in the four months from September to December. DFO scientists are unsure of the exact number of giant squid in the oceans of the world.

The necropsy results will primarily benefit scientists interested in learning more about the species.

"We still have much to learn about giant squid," Mr. Dawe said.

"Scientists are not even sure if there is just one species of giant squid or if there is more than one. A lot of what we think about the giant squid is hypothesis and supposition."

http://www.herald.ns.ca/2005/01/16/photos/1041.jpg

Count Zarth
01-17-2005, 07:05 PM
I see this was a waste of a thread. :(

RINGLEADER
01-17-2005, 07:29 PM
Well either that's one giant shoe in the picture or those two giant squid aren't so big...

Count Zarth
01-17-2005, 07:31 PM
Well either that's one giant shoe in the picture or those two giant squid aren't so big...

Define "big." I think a "giant" squid is anything over 12 or 13 or feet, or something. That's pretty big. I know I'd be scared shiteless if I saw something that big swimming toward me in the ocean.

Delano
01-17-2005, 07:44 PM
I think that black thing in the picture that Ringleader described as a shoe is actually a rather large elephant seal. You can actually see it's eye reflecting the flash of the camera.

Regarding the giant squid, I don't think one has been recorded live on camera. They are probably quite impressive in their native environment, just like GC.

Delano
01-17-2005, 07:45 PM
I see this was a waste of a thread. :(

No, not at all. This thread validated my decision to wake up and sign on to the internet today.

Count Zarth
01-17-2005, 07:45 PM
Regarding the giant squid, I don't think one has been recorded live on camera. They are probably quite impressive in their native environment, just like GC.

Yeah, they've never been photographed or videotaped. Pretty awesome.

One of these days...

OmahaChief
01-17-2005, 08:09 PM
The stuff that lurks in the depths of the ocean can freak the crap out of me. I would love to know what truely is at the depths that we can not reach with subs, I bet it is some freaky stuff.

Count Zarth
01-17-2005, 08:11 PM
The stuff that lurks in the depths of the ocean can freak the crap out of me. I would love to know what truely is at the depths that we can not reach with subs, I bet it is some freaky stuff.

"GIANT" Giant Squids have washed up in the past. I think the longest dead one they've found was like 40 feet long or something.

Giant Squids are often prey for Sperm Whales. They've found sperm whales with huge azz sucker marks on their skin...obviously from some huge azz squid.

Warrior5
01-17-2005, 08:27 PM
"GIANT" Giant Squids have washed up in the past. I think the longest dead one they've found was like 40 feet long or something.

That's a whole lot of calamari.