Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Verne's monster of the deep caught on camera

A GIANT squid, the elusive behemoth of the deep that inspired Jules Verne, has been observed alive for the first time, scientists reported yesterday. The creature, which is as long as a London bus from tentacle tip to tail, has been filmed by Japanese researchers using a baited underwater camera, shedding new light on the lifestyle of one of nature’s most enigmatic living wonders. The first observed specimen measured about 26ft (8m) in total, with 16ft tentacles. Even so, it was something of a titch by the standards of the species as a whole, with the largest yet washed ashore, in New Zealand — at 59ft — more than twice as big. The giant squid, Architeuthis dux, has been known since the 16th century from dead specimens washed up on beaches or snared by fishermen’s nets, and from the occasional fleeting sighting when it has neared the surface. But it had never before been seen in its natural deep-water environment. Its size, fearsome tentacles and beak have captured the imaginations of sailors and writers, for whom it has become an emblem of the terrors of the deep. In Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Captain Nemo’s submarine Nautilus was attacked by a “squid of colossal dimensions” that almost destroyed the vessel....


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