Month: January 2018

Squidzilla

“This old Godzilla movie is better than I expected, Dad”

“Considering that in 1954 special effects were a man in a rubber monster suit, miniature city buildings, and toy-sized cars.  But it’s still fun to watch, though it does also have a serious theme.  Of course the other Japanese monster movies that followed it were more for fun.”

“Yeah, we’ve come a long way since then.  Must have taken a lot of imagination to come up with the idea of a mutant dinosaur awakened by the hydrogen bomb tests and rising out of Tokyo Bay to destroy the city.”

“People were deathly afraid of atomic war in 1954, Johnny.  Especially in Japan with the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.  And Godzilla was a reaction to that fear.  And a warning.”

“Guess they were right to be afraid of nuclear weapons in Japan after they were atom bombed.  Although it did turn out that the peaceful use of atomic power could be pretty dangerous too.  I mean look at that Fukushima reactor disaster they had so many years ago that they’re still trying to deal with.”

 

“That octopus is amazing,” Dr. Kelly.  It’s figured out how to unscrew the top of the jar to get at the crab inside.”

“Octopi and their relatives the squids are among the most intelligent of animals.  Some scientists feel that they can learn by observation just like dogs and apes.  And they even use tools.”

“Who would have thought?  And they don’t even have backbones.”

But they do have very well developed nervous systems.  And huge eyes.  Down in the deepest, darkest depths where the giant ones live, they are active sight hunters.”

“Scary.”   

“Maybe it’s a good thing they have short lives.  Octopi live a few years at best.  Smaller squids live one to two.  Even the giant squids are estimated to perhaps live only five years.  If they lived longer, who knows what they might learn to do and how large they might become?” 

“I’m glad you brought us to the aquarium for the class science field trip, Dr. Kelly.  The giant ones must really grow fast to reach the size they do in such a short time.”

“Yes.  They must eat a lot of prey in order to do that.  Maybe it’s lucky that giant squids are the favorite food of sperm whales.  Keeps their numbers in check.”

“I thought that sometimes the squids won and ate the whales.”

“No, it’s pretty one-sided for the whales.”

NHK News Tokyo:  It was announced today that, after many years and enormous expenses for the clean up efforts, radiation in the countryside surrounding the site of the Fukushima Daiichi reactor disaster has now decreased to levels deemed safe enough for the construction of a memorial park.  However, to insure public safety, rules about limits on the duration of visits to the park as well as age limits for children, are still being formulated.  The actual reactor site, and area immediately adjacent, will continue to be still strictly off limits

CNN News:  Scientists at the University of Washington announced that they have discovered a gene in mice that they speculate might be what governs the life span of not only mice, but possibly all living creatures to a range specific for each species.  They state that it is still too early to say whether or not manipulation of the gene could prolong life.  The study was reported in the journal Nature and is being called the “death gene” by the media. 

JNN News Network:  Fishermen report seeing more pods of dolphin close to shore and in bays and harbors than usual.  The cause of this phenomenon is unknown.

JNN News Network:  The long line trawler Subaru Maru home ported in Shimoda was reported overdue today.  It had an experienced captain and the weather has been calm.  There has been no radio contact for two days and search drones have been dispatched to its last known position.

Perhaps it was it the radiation that leaked into the seawater off Japan.  There was no way of knowing.  A fluke.  A tiny change in the DNA.  A mutation that turned off the “death gene” in the ova of one female giant squid.   And squids lay thousands of eggs.

The blue marlin rocketed out of the dark, blue water off the Kona coast of Hawaii and skated along the surface, too big to get more than half way out of the water, shaking its head furiously before plunging back, stripping out line again.

“Look at that fish, Mr. Cox!” shouted Kawika, the captain of the charter boat.  “It’s huge!  Over a thousand pounds, I’d say.  Terrific luck for the first day of the tournament.”

Jerry Cox settled back in the fighting chair, braced for a long, hard battle, muscles straining against the pull of the giant fish.  “Yeah,” he grunted as he pumped and reeled.

“It’s coming back up,” said Matt, the deckhand.

There was a flurry of frenzied splashing and then the taut line snapped, flying back towards the ship as the severely bent rod whipped straight, vibrating.

“Damn!  Gone!”

“What the hell happened?  Did you see that?” exclaimed Kawika. 

“See what?  The damn line snapped,” said Jerry, disgusted. 

“Something big and red in all that splashing, just before we lost the fish,” said Matt.

“A shark or orca?” asked Jerry.

“Sharks and orcas aren’t red.”

The huge eyes, nearly the size of manhole covers, watched the diving sperm whale.  The squid had seen how sperm whales attacked smaller versions of itself and it knew what to do.  It decoyed the whale within range by hovering motionless, moving its tentacles to attract the whale.  As the whale opened its jaws to attack, the giant squid suddenly jetted out of the way like a matador avoiding the charge of a bull.  Its two tentacles and eight arms seized the whale and held it firmly.  This squid was far larger than what the whale was used to dining on and could not be shaken off.  The squid’s powerful beak tore at the whale’s tail flukes, disabling it so that it could not rise.  As the squid waited for the whale to drown, it warned off other squids attracted to the commotion by flashing out a display on its body and tentacles saying, “Mine.  I fight you.  Get own whale.” 

One of slightly smaller squids flashed back, “Help you catch next whale.  Eat after you?”

“Wait.  I finish, you have.  You help me next whale,” the squid replied even as it began to feed.

ABC News:  Jessica Turner was found drifting earlier today, in a disabled fifty-foot sailboat off San Diego by the Coast Guard, responding to a distress call.  Authorities said Ms Turner was in near-shock when rescued and told an incredible tale of being attacked by some kind of giant squid or octopus.  According to Ms. Turner it pulled her male companion out of the boat.  The animal seemed to stare at her before it sank, clutching the man’s body, but it did not touch her.  The creature was huge, she said.  “And those eyes,” she kept repeating, “Those horrible, gigantic eyes.”  

The Coast Guard and police are investigating what is being called “Squidzilla.”

ABC News:  As a follow up to the story we broadcast two days ago about a couple in a sailboat attacked by a giant octopus or squid, the police have cleared Jessica Turner of any involvement in the presumed death of her companion.  His name has not yet been released pending notification of his family in Hong Kong.

Sears Institute marine biologist Dr. Wilhelm Octavian gave his opinion that from the description given by Ms. Turner, the attacker was most likely a giant squid and not an octopus.  If she was correct in her estimation of the size of the creature’s eyes, he said, it would be far larger than the largest known giant squid.  Dr. Octavian stated that, although a popular subject of fiction and folklore, there have been no documented cases of unprovoked attacks on ships or people by these creatures previously.

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