Thursday, October 16, 2008

Giant Deep Water Squid - Blainville's Beaked Whale Leftovers

Weather was fine today but the ocean was fairly choppy. Ten minutes after my buddy and I left the Honokohau harbor, I started feeling my head spinning... I was dizzy. It was a sure sign of seasickness. Believe it or not, I am very much prone to seasickness. I know, that doesn't go with my profession.

Anyway while I was getting dizzy, my buddy pointed at something ahead. As we got close, we learned they were Blainville's beaked whales or dense-beaked whales, Mesoplodon densirostris. They are around the Big Island but it's very hard to find them. You just have to be lucky to see them.

In addition, they are usually very shy, so it makes this whale species one of the most difficult animals to photograph. I have some OK pictures of this species but I would like something much better.

It seemed that they were playing with something or feeding on something at the surface, so I thought I could have a chance to sneak up on them while they were occupied with that. We approached them very cautiously, stopped the boat far from them and I gently swam out toward them with my camera. But as soon as I reached half way, maybe about 200 feet, to them, they dove and disappeared.

As I continued to swim toward them, I found some carcass of large squid - estimated diameter of about 8 inches and 4-5 feet in length. We knew a famous cetacean scientist/researcher, Robin Bird PhD, who has been studying beaked whales around Hawaii, so we put it in a bag and iced it.

large carcass of a deep water squid, Histioteuthis cerasina, not known to migrate vertically, probably left on the surface by Blainville's beaked whales or dense-beaked whales, Mesoplodon densirostris, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

It was a fresh kill but it was slimy and stinky... yikes! It looked like a humboldt squid, Dosidicus gigas, size-wise, but I don't think the squid species lives here. It's definitely a type of deep water squid and we are hoping it's possibly a juvenile giant squid, Architeuthis sp. That would be a great discovery.

Later on, Robin came back to us and told us that the squid is perhaps a type of rare deep-water squid, Histioteuthis cerasina. There is no common name of the species, and most of them don't migrate vertically. He also said this was the first specimen of that species collected off Hawaii.

We were glad to know all these information as well as the fact that our effort to preserve that stinky, slimy thing wasn't in vain and actually contributed to the science!

To be continued to: Pygmy Killer Whale Families...

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