While in Seattle for the EDUCAUSE conference, I regaled my dean and IT colleagues with the fact that the world's largest squid lived under the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Despite my credentials as having lived in Tacoma as a teen, they did not believe me.
To establish my credibility, I decided to research this topic. I'll readily admit to being wrong if research proves it so, but I'm even happier with it proves me right.
This is story I learned as a high schooler in Tacoma: beneath the Tacoma Narrows Bridge lived the largest squid in the world who liked the waters there because they were so deep. Unfathomable, even. This was a bit of a concern for me because, well, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge is infamous for having collapsed in the 1940's.
That's the attention getting version. Try this one for a factual narration.
Every time we crossed the bridge, I contemplated what would happen if our minivan was thrown into the Sound by a suddenly lurching roadway. Obviously, I would have to contend with the giant squid.
Here is the point where I must admit that my research proves that I was wrong about the giant squid lying in wait for me. Apparently, giant squid are fairly elusive and evidence of their existence is mostly based on dead giant squid that have been washed ashore. However, last year a group of Japanese researchers did finally capture a giant squid on film.
But, wait, there's more. While I was wrong about the giant squid living under the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, I was not wrong about giant cephalopods (a class of invertebrates that includes the squid and octopus) residing there. My first clue that I was looking for the wrong creature came from an article I found in LexisNexis Academic. I had searched for "giant squid" and (tacoma OR "puget sound" or "Narrows bridge"). The article, by Jonathan Raban appeared in the October 31, 1999 New York Times. Raban mentioned in his article that Jacques Cousteau filmed the giant octopus while based in Seattle. (As a point for me, Raban said that the giant squid lived in the Puget Sound, too.) Turning my research to the Pacific giant octopus, I learned that they do live in the Puget Sound. And even hung around while the latest Tacoma Narrows Bridge was constructed.
Feeling about 90% vindicated, I leave you with this footage. And the suggestion that the next time you find yourself driving over the Narrows Bridge that you be afraid, very, very afraid.
Hey, want to learn more about why the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed or giant squid or giant octopi? Check these out:
Construction failure / Jacob Feld and Kenneth L. Carper
Design paradigms : case histories of error and judgment in engineering / Henry Petroski.
Failed technology : true stories of technological disasters / Fran Locher Freiman & Neil Schlager
Aliens from inner space and the fastest claw in the west [videorecording] / BBC Enterprises Ltd
Gentle giant octopus / Karen Wallace ; illustrated by Mike Bostock
Octopus and squid, the soft intelligence [by] Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Philippe Diol e. Translated from the French by J. F. Bernard
If you would like to know how to escape from a giant octopus, you may want a copy of:
The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Extreme Edition By David Borgenicht, Joshua Piven. Sadly, K-State Libraries does not own a copy of this survival text, but we will borrow it for you through Interlibrary Loan.
You can also search for journal articles in some of our biological databases.