Mystery Squid Spotted - again.

Oct 7, 2004

Mystery squid was reportedly spotted again when the "Eye-in-the-sea" in the path of Katrina.

Sept. 7, 2005 —Hurricane Katrina's rampage didn't stop some deep-sea biologists in her path from making new discoveries before they had to run for their lives.

Scientists aboard the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution's Seward Johnson announced that they caught a second glimpse of a mysterious new kind of giant squid and reeled up a deep sea crab that can see ultraviolet light.

The secret to their success was the innovative Eye-in-the-Sea apparatus, which uses dim red light to watch animals attracted to a pile of bait.

This year's big discovery of the ultraviolet-seeing crab raises the question of what the crab sees in UV at 1,700 feet under Gulf of Mexico waves, where no solar UV can reach.

"It was totally unexpected," said chief scientist Tammy Frank of the UV-seeing crab.

To discover the crab's secret, it had to be carefully brought up from the depths in a cold, dark container. The depressurization was not so much an issue because crabs have no swim bladders, and so are not sensitive to pressure changes as are many fish.

Once onboard, it took some very careful laboratory work to find out which wavelengths of light the crab's eyes responded to.

"The problem is that most of their eyes are so sensitive that most of our instruments blind them," said ocean scientist Edith Widder, of Ocean Research and Conservation Associates.

Between seeing which animals fluoresce and bioluminesce, and which see in different colors, researchers are beginning to get an inkling of a whole ecological system of lighting going on all over the planet's oceans — in the dark. Piecing together exactly who is seeing whom and in what color and with what sorts of strange eyes is the "ultimate goal" of their researcher, said Mike Matz of Harbor Branch.

Unlike bright white lights used on most submersible vehicles or nets used to capture deep sea organisms, the Eye-in-the-Sea is designed not to disturb creatures, and in fact attract them.

"What we're doing is using new eyes to look" at deep sea creatures, said Frank.

Last year, that led to the discovery of a six-foot squid unlike any seen before. This year a squid of the same sort appears to have made a teasingly brief foray at the Eye-in-the-Sea, the researchers report. That could mean the animal is rather common, yet had previously escaped notice because it's shy of white lights and too quick for nets.

Despite the new finds, however, the Seward Johnson had to leave the Eye-in-the-Sea on the bottom when Katrina approached.

"We had been looking at this site for about a week," said Widder."Then Katrina took aim at us and we had to get out real quick."

So the 200-pound, seven-foot-tall Eye-in-the-Sea remained there until last Thursday.

"We actually found it upside down at the edge of a ravine," said Widder.

But despite the murkier post-Katrina waters and a suddenly stronger current at the bottom, Widder says storms aren't able to batter things around at such great depths.

"It was probably a large predator," she says of the culprit — a large shark, perhaps.

Unfortunately, she said, the Eye's batteries died before the attack, so the researchers don't have any pictures to prove it.

Yeah, I read that article this morning. I have to admit, I was a bit annoyed. They really said very little about the squid, let alone anything really useful about the crab as well. Ah well, Discover always offers us the chewy bits of popular science. Though I will admit, sensitivity to UV is interesting. Good call on posting this.

chrono_war01 said:
But it bugs me why no further info on the crab and squid are posted.

They may post more later CW......I have as big a curiousity (and a decided lack of self preservation instinct!) as anyone I guess, but even I would have scarpered in front of a storm like Katrina! It could take quite some time to get back on site and pull up the cameras to have a squizz plus these really shy deepwater critters can be maddeningly elusive..........right Steve, Kat & Co :twisted:


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