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Earth Science

Oil Exploration Leads To Video of a Mysterious Elbowed Squid 256

eldavojohn writes "A rare glimpse from Shell Oil of a giant squid brings to light the strange relationships some deep sea marine biologists have with drilling companies. The video of the squid (Magnapinna) is very rare as this creature remains largely a mystery to science. While some are concerned of a conflict of interest, biologists and big oil sure make for strange bedfellows. The video is from 200 miles off the coast of Houston, TX and about 4,000 feet down." Looking at this creature gives me the willies, frankly.
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Oil Exploration Leads To Video of a Mysterious Elbowed Squid

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  • Nice animal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KasperMeerts ( 1305097 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @06:44PM (#25911575)
    Damn, mother nature is really infinitely more inventive than every sci-fi movie director or write in the world. I mean, this is something I would expect to find on some alien planet or something.
  • Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Entropy98 ( 1340659 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @06:45PM (#25911581) Homepage

    biologists and big oil sure make for strange bedfellows
    Really? I would think that they (deep sea drillers and deep sea biologists) have learned quite a bit from each other over the years.
      IP address Finding []

    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The Mighty Buzzard ( 878441 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @08:37PM (#25912231)

      Seriously. Environmentalists need to set the jihad switch to off and try rational discussion with the deep sea outfits for a change.

      I'm fairly sure they'd be quite happy to load all of their deep sea platforms up with tethered, submersible, camera-wielding drones and drastically increase the amount of deep water footage and readings scientists are able to gather.

      • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DeathElk ( 883654 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:19PM (#25913071)
        Not while there's the risk of discovering an endangered species, thus threatening their drilling rights.
        • Why would it threaten drilling rights? Unless the fish are living in the rock what's the problem?

          • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

            by RockDoctor ( 15477 ) on Friday November 28, 2008 @02:16AM (#25913935) Journal

            Why would it threaten drilling rights? Unless the fish are living in the rock what's the problem?

            Three things occur to me : (in decreasing order, probably) drilling mud coating the surface of rock cuttings discharged over the side ; unstable and/ or soluble minerals as part of the rock cuttings themselves ; heat from the cuttings. If you're using oil-based mud (technically, invert emulsion drilling fluid with a low-dielectric continuous phase and a high-dielectric discontinuous phase ; the chemical nature of the continuous phase is varied but it is universally some degree of bad news for any skin it encounters ; I've got the chemical burns to prove it.) then it's unsurprising that dumping tons of it onto the seabed can cause problems in the surrounding areas. Less obviously, throwing tons of rock salt or anhydrite or unstable clay minerals has potential to do various degrees of nasty to water chemistry. There's also the other additives in the mud to consider - barytes is often associated with lead mineralisation, for example, raising the possibility of other forms of pollution. Finally, the rocks that come up from drilling are generally hot to some degree, and while the sea does have significant cooling power, when many tons are dumped into the sea in short order, it's within the bounds of credibility to change temperatures for a while, particularly within the seabed.

            All of which is why discharge of cuttings coated with "oil" (natural or synthetic) is now forbidden in a number of areas. Which simply prompted the development of a range of "skip'n'ship" solutions which are loathed by drillers, but allow drilling to continue to use oil-based muds.

            Well, you did ask!

          • Why would it threaten drilling rights? Unless the fish are living in the rock what's the problem?

            Sound, for one. Scientists have shown that underwater sounds cause major trouble for whales, and might as well cause big trouble for many other species

  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @06:47PM (#25911593) Homepage

    While some are concerned of a conflict of interest, biologists and big oil sure make for strange bedfellows. The video is from 200 miles off the coast of Houston, TX and about 4,000 feet down."

    Research is research. The data doesn't 'care' who paid for the camera. Besides it is in Shell (or whomever's) interest to understand as much as possible about the location they plan on dumping large amounts of money on.

    What happens if there is an alien colony down there? Wouldn't you like to know? Don't go expecting Shell to fund a study of these things, but why wouldn't they show it to people. Looks pretty cool actually.

    And didn't the camera say about 7500 feet (not 4000 as in TFS)?

    • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @07:00PM (#25911661) Homepage Journal
      The data doesn't care, but oil drillers are unlikely to give information that harms their potential to drill, and can afford to be "selective" on what they provide. They also have more than enough technical equipment and expertise to "improve" the data, if it is in their interests to do so. That is why it is generally bad science to get information from those who have a vested interest in your conclusions being what they want them to be. It has nothing to do with the camera and everything to do with the eyes far behind it.
      • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @07:12PM (#25911747)

        The data doesn't care, but oil drillers are unlikely to give information that harms their potential to drill, and can afford to be "selective" on what they provide.

        The conflict is potentially deeper than that. The oil drillers, by providing the hardware, may be able dictate the direction science takes.

        Its no different really than the cigarette companies providing the labs for cancer research. Any scientist working in the lab who finds that 'cigarettes cause cancer' is out of work... any scientist who finds that cigarettes and cancer is unrelated gets increased funding and access to better equipment.

        THAT is the real potential conflict of interest here.

        • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @07:23PM (#25911807) Homepage
          So, if they take submersible time from the oil companies they're at risk of spuriously deciding that giant squid cause cancer? Or that they cause global warming? :)
        • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:35PM (#25912785)
          What you say is true, but same can be said for any other organization that funds research. Everything from global warming to offshore drilling to nuclear energy has scientists on both sides proving their case.
        • by FooGoo ( 98336 )
          This is a possibility no matter who owns the gear or provides the funding. The point is we know something exists that we didn't know before and there is value in that no matter what. Whether it's Shell Oil or Greenpeace both will try to get the best possible spin on whatever they create/discover. No matter where it comes from there is value in knowing...

          If you think that organizations who oppose the oil companies don't direct their research towards specific ends you are mistaken. Money is rarely provided

          • by vux984 ( 928602 )

            This is a possibility no matter who owns the gear or provides the funding.

            To be sure, but that's not to say that all cases are remotely equal.

            Money is rarely provided for pure independent research....most people no matter what their ideology expects a return on their investment.

            If I invest in your company to develop a cure for X, because I want to profit from selling the cure for X, that's not really a conflict of interest. Just because money is involved doesn't mean there is an automatic conflict of inter

        • Same thing happens with all these charities for breast cancer. It's caused less research to be done on other types of cancer which means you're more likely to die of a non-breast tumour.

      • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @07:14PM (#25911755) Journal
        While I am as cynical as the next slashdotter about corporations, Shell have donated submersible time for researchers to gather their own information at this (and other) sites. Without that generous donation the researchers concerned would have squat.

        This video was just something the oilmen spotted and thought was interesting enough to film.
      • True, although increasingly many large international organisations are paying more than just lip service to sustainability etc. Yes, beacuse they see this is key to making a buck, or just survival, still, it's progress.

        Sometimes serendipity intervenes too. On the 'swords into ploughshares' front, look at what they're using SOSUS for these days - whale watching!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RockDoctor ( 15477 )

        They also have more than enough technical equipment and expertise to "improve" the data, if it is in their interests to do so.

        Ah, that would account for the 30-odd (sometimes very odd) video editors, graphics artists and CGI programmers I see occupying the 4 spare bedspace on a normal drilling rig.

        Sure, the oil industry can hire all the graphics expertise that it needs, when it needs it. And when they're no longer needed ... well that's the difference between "contractor" and "core crew". (I say this with

  • Hmm yeah... (Score:5, Funny)

    by cjfs ( 1253208 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @06:48PM (#25911599) Homepage Journal

    This is why I don't eat creatures from the ocean.

    Hopefully they'll return the courtesy.

  • ...welcome our new 10-tentacled elbowed cephalopod overlords.
  • "That is not dead which can eternal lie,
    And with strange aeons even death may die."

    And while we're on the subject. []
  • by imbaczek ( 690596 ) <> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @06:54PM (#25911635) Journal
    using nothing but my keyboard and mouse!
  • It has a bunch of willies hangin' there! Who loves tentacle porn?!

  • Size? (Score:2, Informative)

    I missed any mention of the approximate size of the squid. Does anyone have an idea about how large this creature might have been?
  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @07:01PM (#25911677) Journal

    Looks like a giant virus: []

    Squiddy will give you a flu like no other.

  • by TrickFred ( 231420 ) <> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @07:12PM (#25911749)

    Someone tell Zack Snyder, maybe he can get some budget footage for the Watchmen movie, give it a proper ending.

  • And I for one welcome our new underwater cthulhu overlords...

  • Truth/Fiction (Score:5, Informative)

    by Digital End ( 1305341 ) <<excommunicated> <at> <>> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @07:33PM (#25911865)
    You never hear the full quote, but it is so much better then the shortened version:

    Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.
    • There's another quote that sheds some light on your quote. I don't remember who by:

      The existence of something is irrefutable proof of its possibility.

  • Nature (Score:2, Funny)

    by d12v10 ( 1046686 )

    Damn nature, you scary!

  • Oh Shit (Score:5, Funny)

    by CraigoFL ( 201165 ) <> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @07:37PM (#25911887)
    Still not as scary as Dolphins with Opposable Thumbs []
  • So this squid drifts just above the bottom of the seabed dragging its tentacles along the bottom to pickup yummy tidbits. Why not put a similar system on that Titan balloon probe for sampling the ground/lakes.
  • Not to be picky about the summary, but that video wasn't shot at 4000 feet. It was shot at 1.5 miles, which is about 7900 ft. It's the first sentence of the article.

    A mile and a half (two and a half kilometers) underwater, a remote control submersible's camera has captured an eerie surprise

    Anyhow, very creepy.

  • Alien? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ThierryD ( 217773 )

    Actually, is it me or does it kind of look like the queen mother from the Aliens movie? Argh.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 27, 2008 @08:36PM (#25912225)

    Damn, a giant squid, a robot submarine AND big oil!
    Now if only;
    * The robot ran BSD, but formerly ran Vista
    * The MAFIAA was claiming copyright on the film
    * On close inspection, the squid had a google logo but was in fact an alien species
    * Some jerk had just been granted a lame patent for 'swimming at great depths with tentacles'

    We'd never need another!

  • I've seen at least three different shows on Discovery Channel about these squid that until a few years ago were considered by most biologists to be nothing by a myth.

    One was about the first ever captured specimen of a Giant Squid -- it was almost microscopic and they couldn't keep any alive.

    Later, one was about actually getting fleeting video of one in the wild.

    Most recent was one about another kind of giant squid that's even bigger and was caught in a net accidentally. The fishing trawler was smart enough to quickly freeze it. In the show, they were able to thaw it carefully and do a dissection. Apparently one of the problems with scientists working with these is that thy decompose extremely rapidly.

    Oil exploration is pushing serious camera time deeper than ever. At the same time, an awareness of the value to science of creatures that we don't know about is making inroads into fishing crews in even the most remote places where in the past such a find might simply have been discarded as waste.

    There is a LOT of volume in the oceans, and we're far from understanding it in the kind of depth we one day will.

  • doesnt it give you johnsons ?

    dont discriminate against johnsons.
  • to me it looks like a squid which just ate a rather large king crab. either that or it really is an alien searching for oil. Thats my story and I'm sticking to it.
  • Next time it'll be a squid Sean Penn, and he'll kick your deep sea paparazzi ass, then you'll be sorry!

  • by gordguide ( 307383 ) on Friday November 28, 2008 @12:59AM (#25913585)

    Truly awesome video and a truly awesome creature visible for the first time. Awesome might even be a bit understated.

    But, the manner in which it was discovered? As ordinary as dirt. Face it ... imperial expansion, military exercises and exploration of the furthest corners of the earth, and beyond, and below, are all pretty much the province of the miner, the soldier, the geologist, the imperialist paying those salaries. There is nothing new about how this was found ... it's how EVERYTHING is found. The hunter finds the range and extent of the animals in the local area. The mapping of America was done by fur traders and those seeking treasure. You could go on and on.

    There are those who oppose commercial enterprise, who oppose war and the exercises that preparation for war entail, who find man is essentially unkind to both man and the world he lives in. But, they learn from the adventures and the wallets of the "Bad Man".

    That Shell released this video is hardly a surprise. Our entire knowledge of the world around us is essentially paid for by those like Shell Oil and those who came before them. Shell Oil is as interested in advancing our knowledge as anyone; perhaps more so because they intend to live in this world where this particular creature was found.

    To imply evil intent is really off base ... they have plenty of opportunity to be evil the markets, on Capital Hill, at the UN, or the WTO. Note that few endangered species are likely to be found in those places, that is the environment of man, and is also the place where you are most likely to encounter the environmentalist, PETA, and the like.

    They don't go a mile or more under the ocean's surface ... Shell Oil does, though.

    I have never met anyone who works in the field for companies like Shell who is not far more aware of the world around them than those who occupy the cities and rail against the destruction of our environment. They have tremendous respect for the environment and the absolute wonder of the world we live in. Those who sit at their computers or write letters about banning plastic bags have no concept of the outdoors, usually. In fact, they rarely go about exploring the very city they live in.

  • Geography? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Houston isn't on the coast. It's 50 miles from the coast at Galveston, which leaves two questions:

    1) Was the squid found 150 miles off the coast at Galveston, or 200 miles?

    2) Are there no longer any geographers working at National Geographic?

    Score: 1 (pedantic+)

  • is that the same anatomies keep getting reinvented for various reasons: environment, food source, etc.

    so you have dolphins mimicking the body plans of fish

    you have bats mimicking the body plans of birds

    you have the herds of grazers during the dinosaur age and the predators who track them, and you have the herds of grazers in our age and the predators who track them

    the same bodyplans and anatomical features and feeding strategies keep getting reinvented

    and here, you have a squid, who has evolved to live like a jellyfish

  • where is a Sperm Whale when you need one ?

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato