Sad news on the sea monster front

Rampant menace to mariners since the ancientest of days, sea monsters seem to have fallen on hard times. Despite the largely unarguable facts that the ocean a) is the least explored (and hardest to explore) portion of the surface on the Earth, b) covers the better ¾ths of said surface area, and c) is host to a greater volume of surface traffic — that is to say, prospective human witnesses — than any point in history, sea monster sightings are at an all time low. Gone, it seems, are the days when giants rose from the deep to sink ships and test the mettle of seafaring adventurers. Their reign of fear over everyone from explorers to settlers, pirates to traders, fishermen to whalers began drawing to a close maybe as early as the civil war, as they slowly came to be replaced by the less natural hijinks of The Bermuda Triangle.

What happened to them? Did some shameful act of humanity drive them to extinction? Or perhaps simply drive them to deeper waters, where they warily avoid human contact? Or did they find means to hide themselves, and have assimilated into human society? Mysteries like this can only be answered with wild speculation.

Or so I thought — as would, I assume, any rational human being — until this popped up on Japanese TV in December, 2006:

Following suit with other bizarre, potentially horrifying Japanese movies, this one worked its way into English-speaking media some time later:

The sea monsters didn’t disappear, they just shrank. Sure, that’s a pretty big squid by Applebee’s appetizer menu standards, but it’s not really a sinking-the-Nautilus caliber monstrosity. Possibly anticipating this exact sort of disappointment, the reporters (well, the English-speaking reporter; I can’t vouch for the one speaking Japanese) casually mention that this squid is young, i.e., small, i.e., there are surely much larger squid out there far too crafty to be caught… some possibly as large as 1,000 pounds.

Which sounds mammothly, staggeringly huge, doesn’t it? 1,000 pounds, I imagine them imagining viewers thinking, that’s about as big as a full grown Brontosaurus, isn’t it? Because everything looks bigger in your imagination. Or Texas.

Well, it turns out that, as of yesterday, researchers in New Zealand can show you exactly what a 1,000 pound squid looks like:

That’s it? I’ve seen bigger seafood buffets, I found myself disappointedly thinking as I watched this story. Unless there’s a breed of super intelligent sharks big enough to eat a school bus hiding somewhere, I think all of the mystery of sea monsters has just about dissipated. I for one shed a tear for their passing.


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