Still from video of giant squid, courtesy NHK/NEP/Discovery Channel.
Discovery Channel and Japan's NHK teamed up to capture video of one of the most elusive and fascinating deep ocean creatures: the giant squid. The joint press release announcing the air date of this long-coveted footage contains the sort of prose I wish we were also seeing in this week's round of CES announcements:
With razor-toothed suckers and eyes the size of dinner
plates, tales of the creature have been around since ancient times. The Norse legend of the sea monster the
Kraken and the Scylla from Greek mythology might have derived from the giant squid. This massive
predator has always been shrouded in secrecy, and every attempt to capture a live giant squid on camera in
its natural habitat, considered by many to be the Holy Grail of natural history filmmaking, has failed. Until
Someone is killing and mutilating dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico, and no one can figure out who is doing this, or why. This Friday, a team from the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS) in Gulfport, Mississippi encountered a dolphin with its lower jaw cut off; last weekend, they found a dead dolphin with a 9mm bullet wound that "went through the abdomen, into the kidneys and killed it," according to IMMS director Moby Solangi. Snip from the Sun-Herald's coverage:
In Louisiana, a dolphin was found with its tail cut off. "Animals don't eat each other's tails off," Solangi said. "We think there's someone or some group on a rampage," he said. "They not only kill them but also mutilate them."
IMMS investigated the first dolphin shooting earlier this year and incidents have increased in the past few months. In Alabama, someone stabbed and killed a dolphin with a screwdriver, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration press release. In September, a dolphin was found on Elmer's Island, La., with a bullet in its lung. Others have been mutilated with knife-like lesions.
In Before the Lights Go Out, my new book about the future of energy, I made a joke about the formation of fossil fuels that I would like to rescind.
"All three fossil fuels come from the same place—ancient plants and animals that died and were buried beneath layers of earth and rock, often millions of years before dinosaurs roamed this planet. (That's right. Oil isn't made from dinosaurs. But an apatosaurus makes a better corporate mascot than a phytoplankton does.)"
After watching this video about the secret lives of plankton, produced by TEDEducation and marine biologist Tierney Thys, I feel that the above statement is in error. Clearly, plankton—including phytoplankton, which are just tiny plants, as opposed to zooplankton, which are tiny animals—would make excellent mascots. Somebody at Standard Oil really dropped the ball on this one.
Side Note: I found this video through a link to The Kid Should See This, a blog that aggregates kid-friendly wonders from science, art, technology, and more. If you aren't reading it, you should be. Even if you don't have kids.