Friday, September 30, 2005

Oh Bugger, Now I'm Never Going SCUBA Diving

20000 leagues
A poster for the 1954 Oscar winning, Disney Film, 20000 Leagues Under the Sea

Following this news report in the week, one of my lifetime goals, namely to get SCUBA certified, is very much in doubt. Ever since my childhood, when I watched with rapt attention Kirk Douglas, James Mason et al. do battle with a giant sea squid in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, I've been terrified of the idea of such things lurking below the surface of the ocean. I don't much like the idea of box jellyfish that can kill an adult human with a few picogrammes of poison (to non-scientists, that's a very, very, very miniscule quantity) sea snakes and other such slippery, slimy creatures. But the giant sea squid has always been the king of nightmare monsters. Until now I've always taken refuge in the thought that these things didn't really exist and were the stuff of fiction. Well guess what? Not only are they alive and kicking but every bit as aggressive and scary as anything dreamed up by Jules Verne/Walt Disney. Bloody hell, just take a look at this thing:
Photo by T. Kubodera and K. Mori. The squid (Architeuthis) attackes a baited line.

The picture was taken at 2,950 feet (900 meters) beneath Japanese waters near the Antarctic, where scientists attracted it toward cameras on a baited fishing line. Yikes! So I think that's it for SCUBA training. Sharks and such don't bother me, -heck, I did my PhD on them (oh, alright, dogfish are very small sharks) but this Squid is another kettle of, er, fish (sorry!). And before any of you rational pedantic types point out that 900 meters is a very long way beyond SCUBA diving depth, let me say that it doesn't matter. They are down there and they are waiting...

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