Monday, April 14, 2008

Office Kraken

When we arrived the Ecology Action Centre this morning, there was a big blue squid sitting in the office. We tried to play it cool. But truly, there are few creatures on the planet that command such fear and awe as the Giant Squid.

Seafaring adventure stories are rife with temperamental monsters flailing their multiple grasping limbs around at sailors' peril. As Jules Verne described in the classic novel 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, one "could entangle a ship of five hundred tons and hurry it into abyss of the ocean."

Long assumed to be mythological, scientist have now confirmed the existence of the Giant Squid, or Architeuthis. The world's largest invertebrates, these mysterious giants can grow over 20 meters long and are a nice sized meal for the sperm whale. Rarely observed alive, they sometimes wash up on Maritime beaches or show up in trawler nets.

Squid belong to a large, diverse group of carnivorous molluscs. Relatives of the Architeuthis may be smaller, but they are just as fascinating. They are agile and intelligent creatures with highly complex brains and eyes, and a beautiful skin that can change colours, patterns and even texture. These sassy cephalopods also enjoy a bizarre sex life, which you can learn more about here.

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