Giant Squid: Speculation


The largest invertebrate on earth grows up to seventy feet long and has eyes as big as automobile hub caps. But there’s much about this gigantic creature that we can only guess about, because nobody has ever seen one alive. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

“It’s remarkable that an animal this large is yet so unknown to us and so elusive.”

Neil Landman is chairman of the Department of Invertebrates at the American Museum of Natural History. He’s talking about the giant squid, which lives at depths of 3,000 to 4,000 feet. The only giant squids people have seen have been dead ones that were beached or caught up in fishing nets, so even experts can only speculate about a creature that has never been observed in its natural habitat. Why, for example, does the giant squid have such huge eyes when it lives in the dark?

“Well, you know, I was thinking about that. It is in deep water, but whatever light there is, it would be very sensitive to that. And in deep water, there’s phosphorescence and luminescence and it might be tracking into that. And so I think it’s picking up on whatever light is at those depths.”

Scientists have found evidence of battles between giant squids and sperm whales, but here again, a bit of imagination is required.

“We know very little of what goes on, we can just infer from looking at the surface of the skin of beached sperm whales, that we see these circular scars, which are the areas where the sucker grabbed on to the whale, so this is a contest between these two giant leviathans of the deep, and I suspect it’s the sperm whale that’s trying to eat the giant squid, not the reverse, but I think the giant squid is trying to defend itself against the sperm whale.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.


Giant Squid: Speculation

It grows up to seventy feet long and has eyes as big as hub caps. But so far, no human being has ever seen one alive.
Air Date:11/06/2000
Scientist:
Transcript:


The largest invertebrate on earth grows up to seventy feet long and has eyes as big as automobile hub caps. But there's much about this gigantic creature that we can only guess about, because nobody has ever seen one alive. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

"It's remarkable that an animal this large is yet so unknown to us and so elusive."

Neil Landman is chairman of the Department of Invertebrates at the American Museum of Natural History. He's talking about the giant squid, which lives at depths of 3,000 to 4,000 feet. The only giant squids people have seen have been dead ones that were beached or caught up in fishing nets, so even experts can only speculate about a creature that has never been observed in its natural habitat. Why, for example, does the giant squid have such huge eyes when it lives in the dark?

"Well, you know, I was thinking about that. It is in deep water, but whatever light there is, it would be very sensitive to that. And in deep water, there's phosphorescence and luminescence and it might be tracking into that. And so I think it's picking up on whatever light is at those depths."

Scientists have found evidence of battles between giant squids and sperm whales, but here again, a bit of imagination is required.

"We know very little of what goes on, we can just infer from looking at the surface of the skin of beached sperm whales, that we see these circular scars, which are the areas where the sucker grabbed on to the whale, so this is a contest between these two giant leviathans of the deep, and I suspect it's the sperm whale that's trying to eat the giant squid, not the reverse, but I think the giant squid is trying to defend itself against the sperm whale."

Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.