Architeuthis sp- The giant squid, ingrained into folklore by Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, has terrorized the seafaring communities of Ancient Civilizations for centuries.
Once a terrifying demon, the dreaded Kraken of legend has now been absolutely confirmed of existence.
Earlier this month, off the coast of the Ogasawara Islands, south of Tokyo, a giant squid was caught on film by a Japanese research team ... alive. Pictures of a live specimen have been taken before, though rarely, but now there's absolute proof of the former monsters of our imagination.
Even though the squid that was caught died while being hauled into the vessel, this experience gives others the opportunity to learn from the methods employed and locations explored to catch this awe inspiring beast.
The only question now is, what next?
While this is a very joyous and momentous occasion, it makes me wonder exactly that. Frankly, now, I fear for the species's safety.
A fairly known fact, humans have a knack for causing mass extinctions of biological organisms, particularly marine species. The Biscayne Right Whale, a species of whale once populous in the Bay of Biscay (between Spain and France), was named "Right" because when killed, it floated at the surface of the water, making harvesting it easy for whalers. The sluggishness of these whales made them easy to kill as well, and thus, in the span of about 100 years, the entire population of Biscayne Right Whales was farmed into extinction.
Another reason for my doubt about the giant squid's survival, Japan (and Asiatic countries in general) have the largest per capita seafood industry in the world. In Tokyo, where a single bluefin tuna can cost upwards of $100,000 (yes, that is U.S. Dollars and not Yen), I can barely fathom the demand of giant squid if it were to become a delicacy.
I can only hope that some organization, or the country of Japan itself, might take precautions in the safety and health of the now known population of giant squid.
Might I be quick in making predictions? Possibly, but the evidence of the human race's previous interactions with foreign animals of legend far outweighs any of my feelings of "hasty conclusions."
Now I guess we can only play the waiting game, but in the back of all of our minds should still linger, "Is the better understanding of this marine species more of a benefit than the possibility of its extinction?"
"Japan Researchers Film Live Giant Squid." MSNBC.com. 22 Dec. 2006. Associated Press. 27 Dec 2006