Giant squid discovered south of Caxambas Pass
By TOM WILLIAMS (Contact)
Friday, March 27, 2009
Throughout the years, there have always been reports of strange occurrences out on the South Florida waters, but with the latest discovery, south of Caxambas pass, marine biologists from around the world are now flocking to Marco Island.
In 2002, local fishing guide Captain Phil Ridge reported suction cup scars on a very large hammerhead shark caught off Cape Romano. Since that report was registered with state authorities, several other professional mariners have described strange sightings and unusual phenomena, especially during full-moon nights.
The discovery of what ancient mariners would describe as “The Kraken,” or a sea monster, was captured on video off the deep-sea coast of Japan in 1999, but the giant squid that was filmed at a depth of more than 2,000 feet, has never been found alive in shallow waters, until now.
Heading up the international team of investigators for the Marco discovery is Dr. Hiro Tasaki, of the Osaka Deep-Sea Institute of Japan.
“A giant squid found near a shallow water coast is truly a usual find,” announced Tasaki, at the Caxambas public boat ramp and marina, on Tuesday.
“Our team is very excited to examine the giant squid, discovered alive and floating, south of Marco Island, and every attempt will be made to return the 80-foot creature to the offshore depths where it belongs. The discovery of such an incredible specimen alive and aggressive in shallow water is indeed, unprecedented.”
“We know that giant squid are common in the gulf,” Tasaki continued, “But, normally these deep-water creatures are found well offshore, in depths of up to 5,000 feet.
“Global warming in deep gulf waters could be a factor for this incredible migration, or even the sonic booms from military aircraft might be responsible, but perhaps more important is the lunar factor, which will be affecting the local tides for quite some time.”
“The moon,” Dr. Tasaki explained, “Is now approaching a 500-year cycle, in which our lunar neighbor will be the closest it has been to the Earth for more than five centuries. The last time the moon was this close and the lunar gravity this strong was around 1509. This cyclic lunar event corresponds directly with the sea monster stories told by the ancient mariners of the early 1500s — exactly five hundred years ago.”
Dave Odom, of Island-Hopper Aerial-Adventures helicopter tours, was the first person to report the giant squid, two miles south of Marco Beach. Flying a Raven 44, four-passenger helicopter, with passengers from Germany, Odom and his crew banked over the sandbars south of Caxambas pass and saw the misplaced deep-sea creature active on the waters surface.
“It was almost sunset,” pilot Dave Odom explained, “And the view was incredible. We were just crossing the end of Marco Beach and heading south over Caxambas Pass, when everyone saw a very distinctive dark shape moving in the water.
“When we flew in for a closer look, several very large tentacles broke free from the water and appeared to reach up for the helicopter. We also saw the giant squid’s eyes — very large and dark.”
Hans Bayer, from Düsseldorf, Germany, was in the helicopter’s front seat when he commented. “I am certainly glad we are not in a boat! That creature, with those legs, must be at least 30 meters (90 feet) long.”
Old Calusa Indian drawings recovered in the most recent archeological dig in old Marco have revealed crude images of squid-like creatures doing battle with Marco’s ancient Native Americans.
“March 11 was the last full moon,” Tasaki continued, “As the next full moon cycles closer, we can probably expect future sightings. It certainly is possible the misplaced creatures could navigate the extensive Marco canal systems in search of food. All residents should be made aware that a giant squid has a voracious appetite and is one of the most aggressive and intelligent hunters on the planet.”
A warning has been issued for all Islanders to be on the alert for unusual activities near waterfront homes. Until further notice, boating at night should be avoided.
“The giant squid has the largest eye on the planet, about 18 inches across,” Tasaki explained. “These eyes are very keen in dim underwater conditions, but a giant squid would never surface in bright sunlight. The only occasion that a giant squid of this type would ever surface would be for April Fool’s Day!
April Fool, Marco Island!
A little history of the day
In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new (Gregorian ) calendar to replace the Julian calendar. The new calendar called for New Year’s Day to be celebrated on the first day of January, and was adopted by France. According to a popular wisdom, many people either refused to accept the new date or did not know about it, and so, continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1.
Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on “fool’s errands,” or trying to trick them into believing something false. Eventually, the practice spread throughout Europe and eventually, to America.
The animal, named because of its tuft of bristle-like arms and tentacles and rotund shape, is normally found more than 320 feet (100m) below the surface of the ocean.
Because of its deep water habit, little is known of the behaviour of the squid, although not surprisingly, judging by its body shape, it is known to be a sluggish swimmer.
The squids’ bodies are almost completely clear except for some pigment-containing cells, or chromatophores, which give this specimen its distinctive appearance.
Properly called Helicocranchia pfefferi, the animals are also noted for the light producing organs known as photophores located beneath each of their large eyes.
This specimen, about the size of an orange, was collected by the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium where director Mike Schaat managed to capture it on film.
In other news, eldest child has left to go back to the University of Arizona. I am sad and relieved at the same time, and now enjoying some much-needed quiet after the holidays. Well, I will be enjoying it even more once youngest child goes back to Palomar College next week…