Hate mail for like-minded conservationists

Steve O'Shea

TONMO Supporter
Staff member
Nov 19, 2002
Here are two of the 'not-so-nice' messages that I have received over this last press announcement. I must stress from the very beginning that I am a conservationist (near extremist). The thread title is referring to myself as a 'like-minded conservationist'.

This thread follows a post by squidhavefeelings2 (SHF2) on the 'News and Contents Updates' board.

SFH2, I've repeated your initial post immediately below. Thanks for posting this!! Sincerely!

"I felt sad when I read the story.
They should not have killed the squid by gaffing at it and dragging it on board, indiscriminately killing the animal. Now that its dead, cut it open and study it. Fine I have no problem with that. I just wish it wasn't dead.

Also, why must we keep demonizing the poor animal by calling it a "monster". Its just an animal, no more of a monster than a shark or you and I.

I would like to know, if this squid was still alive, would it be possible to still somehow study it in its natural environment ? Is it possible to do what they did with Keiko the killer whale, tracking its movement, etc.


Several others are:


I read with sadness the story regarding the capture of the magnificient sea creature. Why is this neccesary I ask? Why can't this rare creature and others like it live in peace, unharmed by man's intervention? You may have something interesting to study but the sea, and the world, lost something very precious. I am angry that this has happened.


I read the article on the "killer squid seen attacking fish in the Ross Sea last week may mark the first sighting of the world's largest and most aggressive squid species." and I am absoultely appaled and disgusted that with such a rare species you found it necessary to catch it, keep it and kill it for your own research. Who is the real Killer/Aggressor. It may be the last species and now there are none. Its disgusting how everyone feels it neccessary to destroy the beauty in on our planet.


Before I go to great lengths to respond to these (and similar concerns), should anyone like to add their concerns to this list please do so.
what the hell? steve, pay no attention. These squid are NOT, i repeat N-O-T rare, as far as has been indicated, with sources saying they make up a huge amount of a food source for giant squid.

And here ssomething for those guys about that also; global; warming is in many cases causing the squid population to increase exponentially.

To writer number one, "how can u call it a monster" or soemthing, heres news, IT IS A MONSTER. IT HAS RAZORS ON ITS ENORMOUS TENTACLES!

Oh, and as far as i know this was trawled up, in a catch of other fish, and or squid; it was not targeted, and added to that Steve did not catch him himself, you in bred morons, he simply collected it when informed.

sorry this was rambling, im tired, but this annoyed me.
My typical response here is "to each his/her own".

I appreciate people's passion in protecting life, etc., but I also believe people should do their research before casting criticism. As tomossan points out (quite abrasively :smile: ), Steve did not target the animal, but rather was the recipient of the specimen for study after the incident occurred. And it certainly is not the last of the species by all accounts.

While all of earth's creatures deserve at least some level of respect and should be treated with decency, the value of allowing scientists to study our environment (inhabitants included) should not be diminished. We stand to learn a lot about ourselves and our world by taking a closer look where appropriate. I'm all for progression.
tomossan said:
Oh, and as far as i know this was trawled up...


it was not just simply trawled up. Some of the media omited certain
facts in theirs. I think Australian Times has more details and is more accurate. Let me quote to you what was reported by the Austrianlian Times, "They were hauling in the fish and they saw this giant thing attacking their catch, so they gaffed it and dragged it on board," Dr O'Shea said. The fishermen refused to be identified for fear of angering conservationists... David Pemberton, senior curator of zoology at the Tasmanian Museum, said he was "very sad" the fishermen had killed the animal. "

Let me also borrow a line here from THE ELEPHANT MAN;
"who are the real monsters ?"

Let say for a minute that the Yeti or Sasquatch is real and
if someone ever found the Yeti or Sasquatch and had a choice between killing it with a gun for his/her 15 minutes of fame or letting it go. I hope they would choose to let it go.

Steve O,
Let me also repeat what I said in another post.
I was glad to see your initial answer to my earlier post saying "most of the work you do is geared towards conservation of the marine environment and its species - not collection of squid specimens, self promotion or the sensationalisation of specimen finds (like this present 'colossal squid')".

Thank you, I applaud you.
And thank you for an opportunity to be educated and discuss this further with you.

Given this hugh Colossal Squid is rare (or rarely found/seen), should it be protected ? Should it and could it, be listed as an endangered specie to be protected ?. I believe Dr Rod Hay (New Zealand) is CITES Regional Representative for Oceania. Do you know him and is he active on any of the Forum here ?

I'll probably get in real trouble for posting this, but here goes.

The discovery and study of the vast and diverse forms of life on this planet ultimately lead humanity to a greater understanding of our fragile planet and of life itself. I believe that the pursuit of this has helped helped humanity become what it is. Whether that be monster or otherwise is not really the place of one person to judge, so I won't.

However, I will say that scientific research, especially research on animals, has helped us develop medicines and gain a better understanding of our own biology...an expert from this site can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I read somewhere that giant squid have the largest brain axions on earth, and scientists have been using them to develop a better understanding of our own brains and how to treat brain disorders. Wow! What a fantastic thing it is to be able to do that!

Granted, I'm more or less a simpleton when it comes to big ethical questions, but if a loved one of mine ever is successfully treated or spared death because of what humanity has learned from the animal world, then I for one am grateful.

Ok, let the hash slinging begin...
squid, point conceeded, i was wrong about it being trawled up; but even then its nothing at all to do with Steve; in fact he may be doing these squid a great favour by the research he has done on them.

and again, i stse the fact that these squid are thought to make up a huge part of a sperm whales diet; from what ive read so far, they are NOT rare.

Also, until im proved wrong i dont feel that this kind of beast would have felt fear, or anguis as it died, and so its death does not concern me; as usual in my opinion dying is the problem, not death.

anyway, its good that you care about creatures, but still, its a bloody great monster.... while i dont want them decimated, neither do i feel an emotional bond with it :biggrin2:
Who be you Oh Kaharoa spy? For those who don't know I have a sneaking suspicion this is a cobber in disguise, aboard a jolly-wee vessel R.V. Kaharoa, run by NIWA (my previous place of employment) - I've spent many an enjoyable trip aboard that fine boat!
no; id kill a dinosaur, with no intention of eating it. Or an alligator. OR a giant shark. Or, if i was in the water, and had the means to, a Meso.

selective killing is not natural; it is a product of civilisation to presume you can only kill what you want to eat
i was going to leave this topic alone, but another favorite animal (shark) was invoked, i had to.... killing for self preservation is not a construct of civilization, im sure it happens all the time...not eating the shark or alligator is just wasteful since they both have some good meat (not to mention you could get some shoes or a suitcase while youre at it...) never tried to eat a dinosaur so i dunno, and Steve says they havent tested for ammonia content of the meso so i still have time to tweak my new and improved batter....:smile:

id kill a dinosaur, with no intention of eating it. Or an alligator. OR a giant shark. Or, if i was in the water, and had the means to, a Meso.

so you could ice a dinosaur, gator or shark without help? WOW! i guess im nowhere near the toughest customer around here :smile:

dang - i wish i had gotten to the other threads first.....
Responding to Steve's call for comments


I think that it is quite useful to think for a minute about the real issues that this kind of comment raises about biology and exploration as well as conservation.

It is ironic of course that the state of affairs with squids in general and this species in particular is that I'm sure you'd be ecstatic if in fact it were possible to collect this and and Architeuthis and many other species and keep them alive for even a little while to learn about them.

That being said, I'd be quite interested in your views about how a scientist can do things we are all interested in-- understanding the incredible diversity of life that lies still unexplored beneath the seas, educating people about its importance, and getting support for the work from people with money, while not just being a cataloger of things in jars.

It seems that one of the important contributions you are making to the whole field is spreading the knowledge, and that comes with a whole load of two-edged swords. The same media fests that will get you invited to give talks, get documentaries shown on TV, draw school groups into museums and biology classes will, of course, lead to horrible misquotes, distortions, and omissions. But really, one of the things that is distinguishing your approach compared to lots of other teuthologists is your enthusiasm for getting your findings out as fast as possible to as many interested parties as possible, including of course all of us amatuers. This is I think an important trend in many fields of science, as much about broadening support for research as involving enthusiasts like us in little bits of the research.

Biologists always have a hard time explaining why they have to kill so many things to study them, but compared to that entomologist Irwin killing millions of insects in the rain forest to find a single new species, it seems like finishing off a dying squid is pretty small beer. But I would say that the emphasis on classification over habitat and ecology is a tension in your field; who knows if we'll ever know enough about these creatures and how they live to know if they're threatened til its too late?

Thanks everyone for your posts; they have given me something to think about. I will respond soon.
I be the one who looks as though I have eaten the most squid! I have to keep on eye things to report to the powers that be!

What I want to know is what these big squiddies should be called? I have been searching my dictionaries and am now confused (situation normal).

Giant = unusually large
Colossal = enormous
Enormous = Very large

Does this mean therefore that a Giant Squid or a Colossal Squid is the bigger - semantically speaking?

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