Thursday, 1 May 2008

Giant Squid

A giant squid (although colossal is apparently the more correct description) has been de-frosted at New Zealand's Te Papa Museum in Wellington. It stinks too, according to Steve O'Shea, a world expert on these creatures of the deep. You'll find more about the squid here.
Also there is footage from the live cam (the last few hours of a very long process.) And facts (on weight etc.) here.
The reason why it needed to be defrosted is because last year when it turned up in a trawler's net, Te Papa Museum refurbishments meant there was no space for them to prepare it for preservation, and so it had to be frozen until the refurbishments were finished.
The really, really, giant colossal squid; which experts believe could be hovering deep in oceanic canyons down near the Antarctic; have yet to be brought to the surface, or even witnessed. Steve O'Shea has long been on this creature's trail.
I met Steve and co-researcher Kat Bolstad about six years ago now, during an Arts Festival in Stewart Island. Their knowledge and passion for giant squid is impressive - and always served with large doses of humour and fun. I found them great company; they are downright likeable, level headed people. (I have a soft spot for level headed people.) I mean, what could be more down-to-earth and unpretentious than a world-renowned expert on giant squid who is a huge fan of Neil Diamond?
I was in Stewart Island for a Natural Science Writing Festival organised and run by Michael Tobias and Jane Gray Morrison of the Dancing Star Foundation. Their warmth and generosity helped make it a wonderful trip of which I have vivid, lasting memories.


In the corner of the pub that looks out
on to the harbour at night,
masts of boats drift; dark crosses

hanging in a mist
that annoys the oyster fishermen.
At this table microbiologists

and makers of nature-films
drink beer in the din of Stewart Island
locals and a juke box, and talk

about the intricacies and intrigues
of giant squid, their small brain,
their looks - ghostly, ugly

(yet it could be argued,
mesmeric, mysterious). Of tigers
in the snow in Siberia.

Of how many Type-A scientists
there are. Of the detective work
of research. Of the raw tenderness

of raped oceans - straits dredged,
raked, scraped clean of aeons of coral.
Steve goes out for a smoke. Jane tells us

about her macaw back home
in Santa Monica; how to wake her up
it picks and pings her sleep-mask.


by kd said...

Big news about that squid alright. Thanks for the personalised insight -- the Chief Biscuit trademark!

Pam in Tucson said...

We read about the squid in our local newspaper. Quite a project! Love your poem.

rel said...

So many things as yet unrevealed to us.

apprentice said...

I heard about the squid on the World Service. It sounds fantastic.
I hope enough we discover more of the secrets of the Southern Oceans while there's still time.

Like the poem, they sound quite a bunch.

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

This poem is a gem, chief! Interesting stuff. I'd like to see one of the really really BIG ones, wouldn't you? Up close and personal, but not too close....

Becky Willis Motew said...

I can honestly say the knowledge you have given me about that squid is the only knowledge I have about all squid. I can picture you getting along with the scientist quite well. Your poem is very precise and wonderful.


Joyce Ellen Davis said...

I will admit to being one of those "animal rights nuts" though. I am on the squid's side.

Kay Cooke said...

kd - Thank yoy! :)

pam - The world is fascinated by what lies in the depths of the oceans.

rel - I agree.

apprentice - There's a lot to see and to discover.

pepek - I appreciate your sentiments exactly.

becky - Thanks so much. :)

Jan said...

Good to be back reading your always interesting blog, CB!

Mama Llama said...

Oh my goodness...

Yes, I should say that IS a Giant Squid indeed...

I can just imagine millions of Japanese drooling while imagining "yaki iku", grilled squid that is a favorite oft found for sale in street festival booths or at touristy locales.


Be well, Chief.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Wow... very well written, Kay.
Love this whole post from first to last.

That's some squid! Watch out Jules Verne!

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Kay Cooke said...

jan - Hi ya back!

mapi - Hey yes, I never thought of that one ...

scarlett - Ha, yes, shades of Jules Verne.

Dana said...

Great poem. I love the quirky ending. But who leaved their macaw out all the time? I'm just saying.

Anonymous said...

Mmmm lovely poem. The bit I like best is the part on dredging the oceans, but I also much like the way it ends - it's off some place else and I just want to go too!

January said...

That's an amazing story about the squid. Love your poem, it really has a great rhythm toward the end. Nice!

Unknown said...

Wow - imagine finding something like that... so much remains of the oceans that we haven't got a clue about...

Fab poem - it clicks open and shut like a little jewellery box

Anonymous said...

masts of boats drift; dark crosses ... it's one of those lines that inspires me to paint. I've always enjoyed seeing the connections between the page and the canvas. Of course everyone else seems entranced with the giant squid! xdk

Kay Cooke said...

dana - Yep well it was sixty years old, and a family pet through all her childhood ... so I guess just another family member allowed the privileges!!! Macaws rock!

clare - Thanks - I appreciate your reflections and impressions.

jan - Thanks - it is as yet not included in a collection - but i may be able to include it next time. Hope so as it's a fav poem of mine - just because it brings back for me that magical weekend.

Kay Cooke said...

cailleach - I like that image - like an oyster shell?

donelle - Thanks for your visit! I see images as paintings too and often think of poems as word paintings ... :)

Mama Llama said...

Greetings Chief:

Just stopping in to wish another of my favorite Moms a VERY HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! I learn so much from you and appreciate and respect all you do as an active mother of grown sons and daughter(s)-in-law AND grandchildren. Congratulations, and have a wonderful and blessed day!


kj said...

happy mother's day, chief.

as i'm about to go to sleep, i will have you to thank for any images of slimy giant squid that may intrude into my otherwise serene dreams. i admit to "yuck" when i clinked on the giant photo....

ps thanks so so much for your encouragement on my blog. it made my day..


Kay Cooke said...

mapi and kj - Thanks so much for your wishes - it has spurred me to post my Mother's Day post pronto!!! :)

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