Giant Squid Hitches Free Ride to the Marquesas

"Cruising Post" from our January 10 CW Reckonings

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In the summer of 2004, Beth and Ken Cone boarded their Sundeer 60 Eagles Wings in their home port of Waukegan, Illinois, sailed across the Great Lakes and out the St. Lawrence Seaway, and have been cruising the world ever since.

The latest post on their website, Vancones.org, concerns an episode of underbody sabotage attributed to one of the most mysterious creatures of the deep, the giant squid. While visiting Papeete, Tahiti, the Cones met up with their old cruising pal, Shigeo Kitano, whose progress on a recent passage from the Galopagos to the Marquesas had been impeded by an unknown hindrance somewhere below the waterline of his sloop, Akitsushima II.

Investigating the findings of another cruiser, who hypothesized that Akitsushima II had been latched onto by a giant squid, the Cones donned scuba gear and inspected the underbody, where they found "hundreds of strange circular marks on the keel, rudder and hull, where the soft bottom paint had been rubbed away…the marks looked like suction cup marks. But not just any suction cups. Double cups within cups. Like the ones on a squid. A really, really big squid."

The Cones went on to compile the following list of pros and cons supporting the giant squid theory:

"Cons

  • Giant squid definitely exist but are almost never seen alive. Only last year year did researchers finally get some pictures of a live one. And that was from a submarine 2950 feet below the surface.
  • There have been just a handful of reports of squid attacks on boats in the last 200 years.
  • Shigeo didn't report feeling the violent motion, or shaking, which accompanied the other reported attacks.
  • Giant squid suction cups are usually about 5 cm. Some of these seem bigger. Some of the edges are blurred, suggesting the cups moved around in the same general spot, enlarging the "footprint". But even some of the sharper outlines are bigger than 5 cm.
  • This squid would have to have stayed with the boat for weeks and weeks. The other reported attacks lasted for minutes. Pros

  • We can't think of any ocean junk that would leave this kind of pattern. Barnacles and seaweed don't leave these marks. We've never seen fishing floats that would do this. We can't think of any other natural phenomenon that would make such marks. On the other hand, they look just like those squid suckers.

  • Shigeo's keel and rudder are pretty streamlined. There's nothing much that would catch and hold a fishing net or other garbage, unless it tangled in the prop. But there was nothing in the prop.
  • A squid on the rudder would certainly explain why the boat was hard to steer. And why the autopilot reported "weather helm." And a squid could explain why some of Shigeo's water intakes stopped working intermittently.
  • Shigeo was sailing through a very fertile piece of ocean, known for its population of sperm whales. Sperm whales eat giant squid. And often have scars from the suckers."

To read the complete post, click here.

To propose your own hypothesis, click here.