Tuesday, August 19, 2008

MONSTERQUEST: Boneless Horror

History Channel - Original Air Date: 8/13/08

Do titanic octopi live in the deep waters around the world -- monsters with an armspan of 100-200 feet?  The show investigates reports from the Bahamas to Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest.  Was a blob that washed up on Nova Scotia the remains of such a beast?  Initial observations seemed to say so, but later revealed the blob to be whale blubber.  Similar blobs have washed up since, but scientific examination seems rare.  Divers and even an Remotely Operated Vehicle operator report scary encounter with very large octopi.  If a giant does exist, it could be an intelligent and formidable enemy: octopi will eat anything they can catch.  The MQ team takes cameras into the deep to look for giant octopi (octopuses is also correct, and now the preferred plural of octopus according to Webster) and poke probes into suspected dens.  A kindof silly (scientifically pointless) crush test speculates that a monster octopus could generate 1500 pounds of bite, more than enough to crush a human skull. (Scary, isn't it?)  Sending unprotected divers into the supposed lair of the titanic beasts suggests how likely the producers really think finding such a monster is.  While this show features some well-known research divers and features some very good underwater photography, there are no monsters here.  Camera traps have some nice shots, but reveal only normal creatures, like big starfish (seastars).  The investigators do see a mysterious shape that might be an octopus in one frame -- but the evidence, both for the creature and its size, are far from conclusive.  Expedition leaders describe this as a good first step, but say "I'd like to leave it (the camera) down there for a year."  Not a bad idea for a real scientific investigation.  All in all, this program would have been better as a nature special than as a MonserQuest.

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