Giant Squid Washes Ashore In Tasmania

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The giant squid has always enjoyed a reputation of mythic proportions. The notorious squid in Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was surely based on the giant squid: "It was a squid of colossal dimensions, fully eight meters long…It gazed with enormous, staring eyes…Its eight arms…like the serpentine hair of the Furies…The monster's mouth—a beak made of horn and shaped like that of a parrot…Its tongue…armed with several rows of sharp teeth…What a freak of nature! A bird's beak on a mollusk!"

Search for the Giant Squid

Mesmerized by such descriptions the scientists have tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to find the haunts of the elusive creature.

In 1996 during an expedition to the Azores scientists attached a "Crittercam"—a specially designed video camera invented at National Geographic—to a sperm whale, hoping that the whale would guide them to the squid. The second expedition in 1997 was conducted in the Kaikoura Canyon in New Zealand—a spot where immature male sperm whales hang out and eat giant squid until they are ready to command a harem. During this expedition the Crittercam was mounted on the nose of an autonomous unmanned vehicle that captured some spectacular whale behavior, but no squid. In 1999 Kaikoura Canyon was again the target of another mission, this one with a deep-sea submersible that Roper piloted to search for the squid.

"It is definitely frustrating, because I would love to find Architeuthis and film it," said Roper. "But it's not surprising. Over 99 percent of the living space on Earth is in the oceans and we would have had to be phenomenally lucky to find it."

"This is part of a much bigger quest. It is not about instant gratification. It is exciting that there are still these mysteries to be probed and explored," Roper said.

As for the giant squid that washed ashore this week, it's unclear how she died. Pemberton said she appeared plump and strong with no marks from fishing gear or propellers. But, he added, giant squid have relatively short lifespans—about five years. "Her time may simply have been up."

Liquid Planet Resources

A. Animals and Nature

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Was this Earth's First Predator?
Was the Humble Sponge Earth's First Animal?
Tiny Mandarin Fish Reveal Surprisingly Complex Mating Ritual
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Scientists Track Giant Sunfish by Satellite
Right Whales Get Boost from U.S. Navy

National Geographic Animals and Nature Guide: Go >>

Interactive Feature: National Geographic's World of the Crocodilians

B. Sharks

Follow the progress of this National Geographic expedition to the Florida Keys:
Expedition Report One: Scientists Study Nurse Shark Mating Habits
Expedition Report Two: Researchers Tag Sharks to Study Breeding Habits
Expedition Report Three: Crittercams Provide Insights into Nurse Shark Behavior
Jaws Author Peter Benchley Talks Sharks
Do Hammerheads Follow Magnetic Highways in Migration?
Shark Nursery Yields Secrets of Breeding
South Africa Rethinks Use of Shark Nets
Sharks Falling Prey to Humans' Appetites
Satellites Clear Up White Shark Mysteries
Are People Eating Sharks Out of Existence?

Shark Sites on
Creature Feature: Great White Sharks
Ten Cool Things That You Didn't Know About Great White Sharks
Print 'N' Go Coloring Book: Great White Sharks
Shark Surfari: Online Quiz

Related Lesson Plans:
Lesson Plan: A Trip to the Beach
Lesson Plan: Are Sharks As Dangerous As We Think They Are?
Lesson Plan: Does the Hammer Help?
Lesson Plan: Sharks—Setting the Record Straight
Lesson Plan: Sharks—Should They Be Afraid of Us?
Lesson Plan: What's the Hammer For?

C. Archaeology and Paleontology

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New Fossil: Link Between Fish and Land Animals?
Ancient Walking Whales Shed Light on Ancestry of Ocean Giants
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Curious Find on Confederate Sub Links North and South
Captain's Remains Found in U.S. Civil War Submarine
Captain's "Lucky Coin" Found in Civil War Submarine
U.S. Civil War Sub "Photo" Disproved as Image of Captain
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Journals of Captain Cook Go Online

Interactive Feature: Black Sea @

D. Environment

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Expedition Reveals Black Coral's Bleak State
Artificial Reefs: Trash to Treasure
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Overfishing Long Ago Tied to Modern Ecosystem Collapse
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Despite Predictions, Viagra Hasn't Stemmed Trade in Threatened Wildlife
Raw Human Waste Killing Off Coral Reefs?
Is Bleaching Coral's Way of Making the Best of a Bad Situation?
Artificial Reefs: Trash to Treasure
World Has Enough Water for All, Experts Say—But Only if People Pay

E. Geography

Rotten-Egg Gas Suffocating Fish Off African Coast
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Inner Earth May Hold More Water Than the Seas

National Geographic Magazine: Deep Sea Vents: Science at the Extreme

F. Lesson Plans

Bob Ballard (Undersea Exploration):
Grades 3-5: Ocean Exploration Museum
Grades 9-12: The Science of the Deep Sea

David Doubilet (Oceans and Photography) Lesson Plans:
Into the Ocean
Using Photography to Help Save the Ocean
Ocean Conservation: Getting the Word Out With Photographs
What's Wrong With the Oceans? Can Photography Help?

Grades K-2: What Are Manatees?
Grades 6-8: Working Together for the Manatee

Right Whales:
Grades K-2: Right Whales and People
Grades 9-12: The Best Hope for Northern Right Whales

Aquarium vs. Natural Environments:
Grades 3-5: Aquarium Habitats

Artificial Reefs:
Grades 9-12: The Pros and Cons of Artificial Reefs

Grades K-2: Alligators and Crocodiles
Grades 3-5: What Did They Eat?
Grades 6-8: Crocs, Then and Now
Grades 9-12: Survival of the Fittest?

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