Tentacles on Display

World's first colossal squid display open soon
NZPA | Saturday, 29 November 2008

The Museum of New Zealand will open the world's only colossal squid exhibit on December 13.

The 495 kg, 4.2m female colossal squid will be on show at Te Papa in time for the summer school holidays, and will stay on free display for three years.

It will be lit in a custom-built tank, with displays of various body parts including the lens of its eye, and models of its beak and tentacle swivel hooks that can be touched and rotated.

"This exceptional specimen. . . contributes to our understanding and appreciation of our oceans depths and the amazing creatures that inhabit it," said Te Papa chief executive Seddon Bennington.

The tank with the squid inside weighs 3 tonnes and will be transported from the museum's Tory St workshops on Monday.

It is the most massive invertebrate ever discovered, and holds the record for the world's largest eye, measuring 27cm in diameter.

The squid was heavily hyped as a monster and "T-Rex of the Seas" after it was landed by the fishing vessel San Aspiring – gnawing on a hooked toothfish – in the Ross Sea in 2007.

Donated to the museum by then Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton, the squid turned out to be more a damp squib in terms of the 10m length initially estimated by the trawler skipper.

But when it was defrosted in April, the female squid proved fascinating in many other matters than size.

Marine biologist Dr Steve O'Shea, the main squid expert at Auckland's University of Technology, put together a theory that the female's body may be dark-coloured to cloak the glow of thousands of baby squid, which each have luminous glowing spots near their eyes.

"My research suggests they're not the T-Rex of the sea, they get more docile as they mature. . . as she got older she got shorter and broader and was reduced to a giant gelatinous blob, carrying many thousands of eggs," he said at the defrosting.

"It's likely she was just blobbing around the seabed carrying her brood of eggs, living on dead fish, while her mate was off hunting."

Discovery Channel US filmed the defrosting and examination of the colossal squid for a documentary that was released in the North America earlier this year.

From the aptly named Stuff.co.NZ

Robot vs. Tentacle

Not quite a robot - but I think you'd agree the iPhone is fairly close. - Audrey.

'But the food is taking a little while, so we get two orders of “live octopus”. An assortment of sauces are brought out, followed by two plates of chopped, raw octopus tentacles, which are, amazingly, still moving. They’re a little difficult to pick up with chopsticks, since the suction cups are still going strong and clinging to the bottom of the bowl. I grab a chunk, dip it in an sesame oil sauce, then pop it in my mouth. If you don’t start chewing right away, the tentacles start sticking to any part of your mouth they can— but the fact of the matter is that octopus is a delicious animal, so when it’s this fresh, it’s really, really good....

One tentacle manages to drop on GFB’s iPhone, and sticks with Herculean strength, even wiggling it’s way up toward the top, as Mr. Meatball yells “Keep it off the earpiece!”'

From Day 86: South Korea of Man Bites World

Next: Opposable Thumbs

Alien-like Squid With "Elbows" Filmed at Drilling Site
Kelly Hearn
for National Geographic News
November 24, 2008

A mile and a half (two and a half kilometers) underwater, a remote control submersible's camera has captured an eerie surprise: an alien-like, long-armed, and—strangest of all—"elbowed" Magnapinna squid. (See photos of Magnapinna.)

In a brief video from the dive recently obtained by National Geographic News, one of the rarely seen squid loiters above the seafloor in the Gulf of Mexico on November 11, 2007.

The clip—from a Shell oil company ROV (remotely operated vehicle)—arrived after a long, circuitous trip through oil-industry in-boxes and other email accounts.

"Perdido ROV Visitor, What Is It?" the email's subject line read—Perdido being the name of a Shell-owned drilling site. Located about 200 miles (320 kilometers) off Houston, Texas (Gulf of Mexico map), Perdido is one of the world's deepest oil and gas developments.

The video clip shows the screen of the ROV's guidance monitor framed with pulsing inputs of time and positioning data.

In a few seconds of jerky camerawork, the squid appears with its huge fins waving like elephant ears and its remarkable arms and tentacles trailing from elbow-like appendages.

Despite the squid's apparent unflappability on camera, Magnapinna, or "big fin," squid remain largely a mystery to science.

ROVs have filmed Magnapinna squid a dozen or so times in the Gulf and the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.

The recent video marks the first sighting of a Magnapinna at an oil development, though experts don't think the squid's presence there has any special scientific significance.

But the video is evidence of how, as oil- and gas-industry ROVs dive deeper and stay down longer, they are yielding valuable footage of deep-sea animals.

Some marine biologists have even formed formal partnerships with oil companies, allowing scientists to share camera time on the corporate ROVs—though critics worry about possible conflicts of interest.

Real Deal

The Perdido squid may look like a science fiction movie monster, but it's no special effect, according to squid biologist Michael Vecchione of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who is based at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

In 1998 Vecchoine and University of Hawaii biologist Richard Young became the first to document a Magnapinna, based on juveniles of the Magnapinna pacifica species. M. pacifica was so unusual that the scientists had to create a new classification category to accommodate it: the family Magnapinnidae, which currently boasts four species.

In 2001 the pair released the first scientific report based on adult Magnapinna specimens, as seen via video. The study demonstrated that Magnapinna are common worldwide in the permanently dark zone of the ocean below about 4,000 feet (1,219 meters).

(See "'Weird' New Squid Species Discovered in Deep Sea" [December 20, 2001].)

In 2006 a single damaged specimen from the North Atlantic led to the naming of a second Magnapinna species, M. talismani. And in 2007 the scientists documented two more: M. atlantica and a species based on a specimen from the mid-Atlantic.

That fourth Magnapinna species remains nameless, because its arms were too badly damaged for a full study. "However, it was clearly different from the three known species," Vecchione said.

The Magnapinna species apparently have only slight physical differences, mainly related to tentacle and arm structure in juveniles.

The subtlety of those variations makes it impossible to identify which species is in the oil-rig video, given that at least two Magnapinna species—M. atlantica and M. pacifica—are known to inhabit the Gulf of Mexico, Vecchione said.

Enduring Mystery

Based on analysis of videos not unlike the one captured at the Perdido site, scientists know that the adult Magnapinna observed to date range from 5 to 23 feet (1.5 to 7 meters) long, Vecchione said. By contrast, the largest known giant squid measured about 16 meters (52 feet) long.

And whereas giant squid and other cephalopods have eight short arms and two long tentacles, Magnapinna has ten indistinguishable appendages that all appear to be the same length.

"The most peculiar structure is that of the arms," said deep-sea biologist Bruce Robison of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California.

Referring to the way the tentacles hang down from elbow-like kinks, Robison said: "Judging from that structure, we think the animal feeds by dragging its arms and the ends of its tentacles along the seafloor as it drifts slowly above it."

The elbow-like angles allow the tentacles to spread out, perhaps preventing them from getting tangled.

"Imagine spreading the fingers of a hand and dragging the fingertips along the top of a table to grab bits of food," he added.

But NOAA's Vecchione suggests a feeding behavior that is more like trapping than hunting. He speculates that Magnapinna passively waits for prey to bump into the sticky appendages.

Read the full article at NationalGeographic.com

Why Tentacles?

Well, why not?

I find it hard to believe that you even have to ask that question.

Needless to say, it started with an in joke over ten years ago and has been going strong ever since.

This green Blogger template is somewhat tentacle-like. It's true, tentacles come in many colors - note the excellent blog pinktentacle.com - but I'm a tentacle traditionalist. Most people associate tentacles with aliens or sea creatures, which are often green. Consider it "classic tentacle" ambiance.

This blog is brought to you by nerd camp, Google News Alerts, East Asia and your imagination.