Here be Dragons

Captain Peter McQuhae of the British warship Daedalus, off the West African coast, August 6, 1848:   ‘It was an enormous serpent. It passed rapidly, but so close under our lee quarters that, had it been a man of my acquaintance, I should easily have recognized his features with the naked eye. It had no fins, but something like the mane of a horse, or rather a bunch of seaweed washed about its back.’

Reverend Moses Harvey, Conception Bay, Newfoundland, letter published in The New York Times, September 28, 1874: ‘On reaching it one of the men struck it with his “gaff,” when immediately it showed signs of life, reared a parrot-like beak which they declare was as big “as a six gallon keg,” with which it struck the bottom of the boat violently. It then shot out from about its head two huge, livid arms, and began to twine them round the boat.’

ImageOlivier de Kersauson, skipper of the trimaran Geronimo, off the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira, January 15, 2003:  ‘I saw a tentacle through a porthole. It was thicker than my leg and it was really pulling the boat hard. I’ve never seen anything like it in forty years of sailing.’

Dr Steve O’Shea, Auckland University of Technology,  September 18, 2003: ‘Because the animals are migrating into New Zealand waters to breed, they are very randy. The freezer bag at home – to my wife’s disgust – is actually full of giant squid gonad samples. We’re going to grind all of this up, and we’re going to have this puree coming out from the camera, squirting into the water. Hopefully the male giant squid, absolutely driven into a frenzy, is going to come up and try to mate with the camera. This is the dream – we’re going to get this sensational footage of the giant squid trying to do obscene things with the camera.’

Tsunemi  Kubodera, Japan’s National Science Museum, September 28, 2005: ‘It was quite an experience to feel the still-functioning tentacle on my hand. But the photos were even better. We think it is a much more active predator than was previously thought.’