I suppose it was an appropriate start for an expedition about the oceans: Wet. A cold January morning rain pounded the Washington, DC sidewalks as I dashed, carry-on in tow, to catch a ride to the airport. Fortunately, a taxi driver quickly took pity on the umbrella-less, rapidly saturating figure waving his arm on the corner, and, in keeping with DC taxi cab tradition, I was soon in deep and interesting conversation about current events and, of course, politics.
It’s the fantasy of many a marine biologist and explorer. To catch a glimpse of the giant squid, alive,and in its natural habitat: The deep ocean. Giant squid have been scientifically documented at a size of up to an incredible 43 feet long based on specimens that have washed ashore. I’ve seen one such specimen at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. Laying there pickled and motionless in its sterile white display case, it was hard to imagine this animal rocketing about the dark depths, living up to its reputation as a formidable predator. During one of his talks when I first met oceanographer Bob Ballard, he compared trying to find the giant squid from a submersible to trying to find an F-15 jet racing by, on a mountain top, at night, in a driving rainstorm, with a flashlight. Yesterday I had second thoughts about looking for the giant squid when one of its cousins, less than 2% of its size, disabled my sub and aborted my dive as I was descending through 1,300 feet.