Widge Meets the Giant Squid

I’m apparently the most excited person around these parts now that the Georgia Aquarium has a giant squid carcass (the head of one, anyway) on display, loaned to it from the Smithsonian. It’s on the second floor of the cold water exhibit right by the beluga whales. Those keen folks among you will realize that that’s exactly where we bunked down during the Georgia Aquarium’s Valentine’s Day sleepover. Those twisted folks among you will further realize that on future sleepovers, you will be able to bunk down right next to a dead giant squid. And in that sleep next to a giant squid corpse, what dreams may come…

Anyway. Sorry. Where was I? Yes. So I’ve got some pics and a vid to share with you, but first of all: I’m a bit alarmed that the people who walked by had no clue why this was cool. You see (or you will in a second), the squid’s been dead a long time and is kept in a container of formalin or something and basically looks like a mummified squid. Somebody actually asked, “Why would you keep something like that?” A few even asked, even after looking at it, “Is it dead?”

Folks, it’s a giant squid. We only got photos of the damn things in their native habitat back in 2004. (We’re talking the big ones, anyway.) That’s how elusive they are. Then apparently a Japanese team caught a small one alive in 2006 and got video of it:

Direct link for the feedreaders.


Sleeping With the Fishes: Valentine’s Day at the Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium has an interesting program we’ve taken to calling “Sleeping With the Fishes.” It’s essentially exactly what you would interpolate from that title: a big sleepover hosted at the Aquarium. Sort of like a church lock-in except with whale sharks instead of Jesus and 50% less awkward groping.

This year they held one of these for Valentine’s Day so myself and Cosette, being our resident aqua-fanatic (she’s been swimming with the whale sharks at the Aquarium and you can find her series of Shark Week features here) decided to go for it.

And in short, we had a blast. We had tacked on to the beginning of the evening an additionally offered combo of dinner and a lecture, so we showed up at 6pm on Valentine’s Day at the Aquarium. We kept out sleeping bags and gear and such in the car and went straight to the Oceans Ballroom for the first part of the festivities.


Needcoffee’s Shark Week: Day Five

Shark from DK Books

Welcome back! Today we’re wrapping up our exploration of fifteen different species of sharks. To catch up on the previous ten (and the rest of our Shark Week posts), go here. We have a few “normal”-looking sharks, and then a few weirder ones. But first, let me introduce today’s book choice. I admit that even though I am indeed an adult, I love DK’s illustrated children’s books. Oh, they have great books for grownups, too, but I still enjoy the way they can pack so many pictures and so much interesting information in a straightforward (but not boring!) way into a book for kids. And no matter how much I think I know about a topic, they always seem to have at least one thing I did not know before I picked up the book. Therefore, today’s choice, particularly for those of you out there with kids, is the DK Eyewitness book Shark. You can grab it here.


Needcoffee’s Shark Week: Day Two

The Ocean World, by Jacques Cousteau, book cover art

So our Shark Week celebration continues today with some more tasty tidbits about sharks and the world in which they live.

Our first selection today is also a childhood favorite of mine (I used to look at the pictures in it every time I got my eyes dilated at the ophthalmologist’s), and to me is the book equivalent of the Blue Planet series. The Ocean World by Jacques Cousteau is still for me the most comprehensive and diverse book on marine life by far. A beautifully photographed, easy to read coffee table-sized book, it is a magnificent work by perhaps the father of modern marine biology. Again, I feel that it is important to put sharks in context, so this is our “a shark’s world” work of the day. You can snag it from Amazon here.

When you say the word “shark,” most people immediately think of a great white shark. It is probably the best known because of its dangerous reputation. But there are over 350 species of sharks, many of which feed on plankton and are harmless to people. One of these plankton-feeders is the whale shark. This beautiful creature is the biggest fish on the planet (the largest one according to Guinness was over 41 feet long!). I have become much more enamored of these sharks after seeing them at the Georgia Aquarium and attending a recent lecture there about an aggregation of whale sharks that happens every summer off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.