Skip to comments.Giant sea specimen baffles scientists
Posted on 07/02/2003 5:24:45 PM PDT by swarthyguy
SANTIAGO, Chile - Fishermen found the 39-foot-long carcass of a sea creature on a beach in the south of Chile, and conservation specialists were trying to determine if it was an octopus.
The creature, believed to be of the species octopus giganteus, was found near Los Muermos, 683 miles south of Santiago.
The remains weigh about 13 tons.
Elsa Cabrera, of the Cetacean Conservation Center, said that similar animals have been found recently in New Zealand.
Cabrera, who is a specialist in submarine photography, took samples of the creature to send to Italy, France and the United States to determine its species.
The find was originally believed to be part of a whale, but its size, texture and even the smell point to an octopus.
SANTIAGO, Chile, July 2 A huge, gelatinous sea creature found washed up on Chiles coast has stumped scientists, who have sent samples to a specialist in France for help in identifying the mystery specimen. The blob was mistaken for a beached whale when first reported last week, but experts who went to see it said the 40-foot-long mass of decomposing lumpy gray flesh apparently was an invertebrate.
WED NEVER before seen such a strange specimen, we dont know if it might be a giant octopus that is missing some of its parts or maybe its a new species, said Elsa Cabrera, director of the Center for Cetacean Conservation in Santiago. The round substance looks like a mammoth jelly fish and is about as long as a school bus. Giant octopus live at a depth of up to 9,500 feet and only rise to the surface when they die. Specimens have been known to be as long as 30 feet.
WHALE SKIN? There was speculation that the mass might be a whale skin, but Cabrera said it was too big and did not have the right texture or smell. Steve Webster, senior marine biologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, wasnt ready to rule that out, at least based on the photo and limited information he has read. If the texture is leathery, he said, I would opt more for whale skin ... the rotted, separated skin of a blue, sei or fin whale could easily be this size.
In addition, he said, at least 50 percent to 80 percent of the length of a giant squid or octopus is arms and tentacles, not the body. From what I can see in the picture, this is one big mass of tissue, and is not divided into what might be arms or tentacles. The Chilean Navy first spotted the mystery specimen along with another large mass near Puerto Montt, in southern Chile, but the latter turned out to be a dead humpback whale.
GIANT OCTOPUS OR PLANKTON? Cabreras group sent samples to French specialist Michel Raynal. The center contacted him and his initial impression was that it is a giant octopus, Cabrera told MSNBC.com.
A review of literature found only one other specimen of a similar shape and size, Cabrera said, and that was found on a Florida beach in 1896. University of Southern Florida scientists a few years ago said tissue analysis showed that the specimen was whale skin, not a giant octopus. Cabrera noted the Chilean specimen is bigger than what was found in 1896, measuring about 40 feet long, 18 feet wide, and three feet tall at its highest point. Webster raised the possibility that if the blob is really gelatinous, and not particularly tough and leathery, then it could be whats known as a pyrosome a colony of millions of plankton that can grow to up to 60 feet long. He said that genetic analysis of the tissue should reveal some clues to identify the specimen. If this were just the head and body of a squid or octopus, he added, then it appears to be far larger than any such critter known to date.
,,, nouvelle cuisine BUMP.
Anyone know if Jerrold Nadler is missing?
,,, that's not very nice - and after all Jarrold's done for you!