ARE GIANT SQUIDS THE TRUE SEA MONSTERS?



The giant squid, one of the most terrifying monsters of the sea, has never been seen alive. A member of the class Cephalopoda, which includes the octopus and the nautilus, the giant squid is the largest invertebrate in the world.

The statement that the monster has never been seen alive should be amended to read that no marine zoologist or other scientist has been able to observe the giant squid in its natural habitat. The huge creature, commonly known as the kraken, has been reported throughout nautical history. There have been frightening reports of people snatched from their boats or the seashore by the tentacles of the kraken, numerous sightings of whales being attacked by the giant squid, and stories of entire ships being pulled beneath the surface by a beast with tentacles more than 200 feet long. Some scholars of marine lore insist that the great giant squid fight scene in Jules Verne's (1828–1905) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1870) was based on an actual encounter with a kraken that involved the French battleship Alecton in 1861.

On a weekend in July 2002, early morning joggers discovered the remains of a giant squid almost completely intact, stretching nearly 50 feet in length and weighing over 500 pounds. Observers said the beast had eyes the size of small dinner plates and a parrot-like central beak. Dr. David Pemberton, Senior Curator of Zoology at Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, rushed to the scene in time to save the fragile corpse from the incoming tide.

Six months earlier, another nearly complete specimen of giant squid had been washed ashore near Aberdeen, Scotland. In December 2001, scientists from the United States, Japan, Spain, and France reported eight separate sightings in various oceans of an unknown species of squid that if not giant squids were certainly very large creatures. Underwater video cameras recorded footage of what may be a new species of squid 13 to 23 feet long gliding through ocean depths of 11,000 feet.

SOURCES:

Askwith, Richard. "They Came from the Deep." The Independent, August 7, 2002. [Online] http://news.independent.co.uk/world/environment/story.jsp?dir=507&story=322280&host=....

"Deep-sea Monster Caught on Tape." Science News from MSNBC, December 20, 2001. [Online] http://www.msnbc.com/news/674647.asp.

Heuvelmans, Bernard. In the Wake of Sea-Serpents. New York: Hill and Wang, 1968.



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