OK, so I click on Google News to try and find any items regarding the July jobs figures. I see an item about the floating mass of garbage. I was intrigued because I didn’t know if it was a spill or a quirk of nature. It was the USA Today item. It told me nothing (which I expected because when has the USA Today ever informed anyone about anything? I’ve read it maybe three times and I realized that much). I noticed the link at the end of the item. I clicked on it and I was taken to your site. As I expected there wasn’t much information about the garbage float but i did notice this squid item. Again, there was no information so I Googled Vampire Squid and found cool pictures and some good information about the squid. I found it interesting that the people who named it in Latin gave it the name “squid from hell”. That was odd because these Latin-naming people (whoever they were) always came across to me as people with IQs in the 300s, so I found it odd that they named it in the same manner as Stephen King would. So now I’m wondering: Did you catch it accidentally? Did you throw it back? How big is it? The piece of wood near it could be a small piece of scrap wood or it could be someone’s backyard deck. Is it food? Did you prepare it with a marinara? Did it attack anyone? It was webbing, perhaps it can fly short distances. I don’t know if any of you have ever seen Godzilla v. The Smog Monster but something that looks eerily similar to that squid ate pollution in the Pacific and grew to twice the aize of Godzilla. Needless to say Godzilla saved the day but at great expense to mankind and Tokyo. So maybe you should throw that thing back. Does anyone know the July job figures?
Whoa, lots of questions! I’ll do my best to address all of them.
The nets are pretty indiscriminate. If something is in the path of the net and larger than the mesh of the net, we are going to catch it. While you may be focusing on a particular type of organism with a particular type of net, you never really know what you are going to catch!
They did not throw it back. Everything that comes up in a particular tow is preserved and stored together. This is important for anyone who goes back to the sample later. While one person may be looking at fish, another person 5 years from now might be interested in a time series of squid. Oceanographic samples are expensive and difficult to come by; we don’t throw anything back!
I’m not sure about the exact size of this specimen. Vampire squid have a maximum length of about 1 foot. The ones that I’ve seen on cruises in the past were fairly small, about 4 or 5 inches long.
The piece of wood is securing the aquarium. While at sea, everything (from scientific equipment to computers to coffee cups) has to be tied down or otherwise secured secured because you never know how the ship will move from one minute to the next.
Even if it was okay to eat scientific samples, this would not be the one to choose! Unlike coastal squid, which are quite muscular and delicious, open water squid are pretty gelatinous. When you hold a vampire squid it kind of oozes through your fingers, which isn’t very appetizing at all!
It did not attack anyone. Not only is it a small animal the consistency of snot, this little guy had a really tough day. By the time that it got into the aquarium where it was photographed, it had been pulled up through about a thousand meters of water. This means that the pressure on the organism was decreased by about 100x. These animals live in near total darkness, which is not the case where this picture was taken. Additionally, the water at 1000m is significantly colder than water at the surface. I assume that they put the squid into the coldest water available, but even under the best of circumstances, it would have warmed up pretty quickly. This guy couldn’t have attacked anyone even if it wanted to.
[...] place when the sun goes down. Critters of all sorts come to the surface to feed. We collected vampire squid, beautiful jellyfish (we think that it was Periphylla periphylla ), and a rat tail fish just to [...]
Oh cool. A reply. Hi Alison, thanks for all of the great information. You’re some expert. I always enjoy reading or listening to a person who is an expert on whatever their thing is. I learned a lot.
While i was obviously goofing off with the Godzilla stuff I am totally interested and amazed at what you’re all doing out there. I love the way the Internet can take you on all of these twists and turns. I was looking for job figures and here we are.
I’m perplexed at how this plastic float came to be. Did it fall off of a barge? Or did currents just bring it all together the way rain water brings things to the sewer drain?
Can it actaully be as big as Texas? There will be no way to get rid of it if it is. We’ll be stuck with it.
The plastic float came to be largely as a result of physical oceanographic forces and has probably been accumulating for quite some time. There was a blog post yesterday by Pete Davison that gives a really nice explanation. I have no idea how big it is or if it is possible to clean it up. However, I do believe that the better our understanding of it is, the more likely we are to make progress in these areas!
We love the vampire squid. Has his color changed? Are you feeding him/her, and what are you feeding it? We recommend placing ice cubes in his tank. Does he appear comfortable? Do you know if he has any other natural enemies other than you?
By: Bryce and Brendan Kelety on August 4, 2009 at 8:25 pm
Vampire squid don’t really change color. In squid that live at the surface, color change is used as camouflage. However, for deep dwelling organisms like the vampire squid, there is no light, so changing color wouldn’t be beneficial. Unfortunatly, the squid died within hour of being brought up in net. When the live squid came up in the net, he was placed in the aquarium temporarily so that everyone could look at him and take pictures (live vampire squids aren’t exactly something that most people come across everyday!). However, this squid had an incredibly difficult day (huge change in ambient pressure, light levels, and temperature). This is too much stress for virtually any organism to survive.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Have you ever encountered a Humblot Squid? We think they are cool too.
By: Bryce and Brendan on August 5, 2009 at 7:17 pm
I have never actually seen one, but I would love to!
By: Alison Cawood on August 5, 2009 at 7:33 pm
Pete’s blog was really great. I learned a lot. After reading it I think that when you roll up on this thing you’re going to find that it has depth to it. Meaning a few feet of debris deep, thick.. I hope I’m wrong. I’m not a scientist so I hope I am wrong. I can’t even imagine what you’re going to do when you get to it. Are you going to go through it? What are the plans? What a nightmare. The only good thing i can see coming from this is that the entire world will be able to see this monstrosity. There’s also a chance that it’s all hype. Maybe it’s just a few plastic cups.
Sad that the squid died. Can you study it and learn anything about the species?
The plans at this point are to use oceanographic data to locate likely convergence zones. Once in the zones, there will be an extensive sampling schedule designed to collect as much data as possible in the allotted amount of time.
Regarding the squid, as of right now, we really know nothing about it. Once the cruise returns and we can identify the species, we can compare where we found it to other places where they have been seen.
Lots of the questions that the scientists on this cruise are investigating deal with how the plastic impacts marine organisms. We don’t have enough information to be able to answer that question very well yet. The plastic is coming from people! Trash that is tossed off of ships or onto beaches or washing into the ocean from river or storm drains.
i Love the fact that you are heading out to research the plastic mass and abject destruction of our oceans.
I’ve seen a few docs and read some research pieces on 2 of the boats that already engaged in some research, the Aguita (sp?) and i can’t remember the name of the other one.
to think of the extent of the damage from the plastics and thier other components being broken down and being introduced into…everything’s…food chain makes me shudder…look forward to reading more details about what you see and the ratio of organisms to trash content….
I know that you, Alison, have probably seen it and the scientists are referencing some of Cpt. Moore’s work – but for others coming here out of interest, it’s well worth viewing to get an idea – and know the ‘Garbage Island’ is actually much worse than a giant physical mass: rather it’s thousands and millions of tiny particles being introduced to the food chain.
think again everyone, before you purchase plastics anywhere!
also, the garbage doesn;t just come off ships or coastally inhabited regions, they come from anywhere that has streams, lakes, tributaries, et al eventually running into the ocean – and it doesn’t have to just be the pacific ocean…
[...] of what we may find and the journey ahead. That was followed by amazement and awe of the odd animals we were pulling up in the tows in the California Current. Then we began to find what we came here [...]
Today I discovered two slivers of semi-soft plastic in the cavities of two calimari portions I was preparing to cook. I began an internet search to try to find a possible explanation and learned that some fishermen use plastic lures. Also, Stephen’s comment (August 9) about the toxic garbage island and plastics being “introduced into everything’s food chain” is, I agree, an overwhelming thought and may provide an explanation for the presence of the plastic in the squid I bought at the supermarket. I’m grateful that people like Scripps U. are aggressively studying this development.