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On Second Thought

Disco balls and giant squid
Thursday, November 19, 2020
On Second Thought

Back in the good old days of the 1970’s, in the event of a pandemic and subsequent rolling quarantine we had three TV channels (if your parents were hippies and they told you about PBS, then you had four), and we would have been forced to do crazy things like talk to each other or contemplate our very existence had we been faced with what’s going up this year.

However, it’s 2020 and I have 1,964 channels on my cable box. When I’m talked out and tired of my existence, I just watch one of those channels, the Travel Channel. Because ghost shows.

I only bring this up

because the Travel Channel threw me a fast ball Sunday night and that’s why we’re going to talk about giant squid this week.

First, a couple things.

Technical drawings of giant squids look like medieval birth control devices; and, the eyes of a giant squid are the largest in the animal kingdom, and are the size of a human head; and giant squid are covered in mucus and have three hearts, as well as hundreds of tooth-encrusted suckers on their ridiculously long tentacles.

And I just stopped eating my cookie.

As of the beginning of the documentary there were no captured images of a giant squid (spoiler alert: stay ‘til the end) but they did have technical drawings that looked like they were rendered by insane gynocologists.

There were three scientists using three different methods to lure this mythical beast to a deep submersible that resembled a smart car with more buttons.

Since they think the giant squid are hiding near some island off the coast of Japan, they hauled their little submarine and took turns trying out their methods.

Personal note: Just based on the technical drawing I would have called in sick with a bad stomach virus on launch day if I were a marine biologist on that mission.

The first scientist on the team made up some kind of squid aphrodisiac (they know what they’re doing, y’all) with plans to release it when they launched the very deep submersible in hopes of capturing the first image ever of a giant squid, while also not dying at the tentacles of the same squid.

I was a nervous wreck.

My husband walked into the living room and startled me, and I screamed “Leave me alone, I’m watching squid porn!”

He seemed unaffected.

After watching this portion, I have enough information on the squid to understand their mating habits, and you need to know that neither birth control nor social courtesy is part of their process.

When the submersible was about 100 stories down, they sprayed the squid aphrodisiac. It worked and squid start showing up, only no giant ones crashed the party.

The second time they went down was with the bioluminescence expert who invented something like a disco ball that replicates a particular jellyfish, and it was a bomb. Nothing, and I was rooting for her with that disco ball invention. It was called an electronic lure, but I think of it as an invitation to dance.

Also while she was down there they dropped this camera cube thing she designed into the ocean that also has a disco ball, and they left it there for 30 hours to hopefully capture giant squid glamour shots.

In the meanwhile, the third was a guy who used bait, an expert in invertebrate biology. The bait was a dead squid, which tells me squid will eat anything, even their own. Only a shark cruised by and ate the bait just before they had to resurface.

Because, as on land - sex sells, the first guy with the aphrodisiac idea goes down a second time and I was on the edge of my seat. Nope, didn’t work.

Disco ball lady and bait guy get their second turns in the submersible and come up with big fat nothings.

Finally, they bring the camera cube thing up after 30 hours and while watching at the footage together, the business end of a giant squid said howdy, and the team was able to secure the first ever image of the mythicial giant squid. It was everything I thought it would be and less.

It was missing its two long feeding tentacles though and the scientists pontificated that they were probably in the stomach of their arch enemy, the sperm whale.

They know this from sperm whale autopsies which I didn’t even know were a thing. Hang with me and you’ll find out things you never wanted to know - I guarantee it, and so does my sweet husband.

Anyway, this isn’t enough for these scientists, who wanted to see it with their own eyes instead of a camera. So they went back down in the snack size submersible and it worked. They saw a huge but indistinct squid. Then, plain as day they became the first people to lay eyes on an actual giant squad, which does in fact vaguely resemble early birth control, although it would be 26-foot long birth control and not suitable for modern times.

The icing on the cake for me was that it was a woman who did it...USING A DISCO BALL! Out of all the trash I watch on the Travel Channel, I feel vindicated.