Natural Science: This passage is adapted from the article "A Mystery Squid Found Lurking at Ocean Bottom" by Carol Kaesuk Yoon (copyright 2001 by The New York Times Company).

In a finding that has thrilled deep-sea scientists

and put squid experts in a tizzy, researchers have

reported the discovery of a bizarre squid reaching

23 slimy feet in length lurking the oceans' depths all

[5] across the globe.  In Science magazine, an international

team of researchers documents eight sightings of the

creatures.  At rest, the beasts look something like a pair

of elephant ears atop bent, threadlike arms resembling

moon-landing gear.  Scientists still have not captured

[10] the animals, which were seen near the sea floor in the

Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans and the Gulf of

Mexico at crushing depths, one to three miles below the

surface.

 

"It occured to me that these things were showing

[15] up all over the place in deep water," said Dr. Mike

Vecchione, a squid biologist with the National Oceanic

and Atmospheric Administration and the lead author of

the Science paper.  "For this large, highly visible animal

to be common in the largest ecosystem on earth and for

[20] us to know nothing about it seems fairly remarkable."

 

Unlike the 60-foot-long giant squids, however, 

these new squids have never washed up on shore or

been found in the stomachs of whales.  Researchers say

that is not surprising because they are probably too delicate

[25] to survive each passage without disintegrating or

being eaten.  Not even the giant squid, Architeuthis, has

been seen alive in its natural deep-sea habitat.

 

Scientists calculate that the deep sea -- the lightless

zone of the ocean that includes everything below

[30] 3,000 feet -- encompasses more than 90 percent of the

earth's biosphere.  The skin of habitat on land is minuscule

in comparison.  Yet because the ocean's depths are

dangerous and expensive to explore, very little is

known about the deep sea -- so little that even a big, 

[35] common creature can go undetected.

 

"It's just a fantastic finding," said Dr. J. Frederick

Grassle, the director of the Institute of Marine and

Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University.  "I've made a

lot of dives in submersibles and never seen anything

[40] like these.  It's remarkable that there have been so many

sightings recently."

 

Perhaps most remarkable is that researchers could

piece the sightings together at all.  Dr. Vecchione said

all the squids were spotted incidentally, by scientists or

[45] oil company workers looking for something else on the

ocean floor.  The change observations occurred over the

last 13 years.  Dr. Vecchione said the first videotape he 

saw of one of these animals was made not for science,

but for love, by a man aboard an oil exploration vessel

[50] using a remotely operated submersible.  When the submersible

came across the squid, the man filmed it,

because his girlfriend was interested in marine biology.

"It was just pure luck," Dr. Vecchione said.  Once aware

of the new squid, he began learning of the other

[55] observations.

 

The squids are unusual in a number of ways,

including their excessively long arms held in a unique

bent stance, their large fins and their apparent lack of

concern with the proximity of the submersibles.  When

[60] observed, the squids were mostly hanging in the water,

gently waving their fins to hold their position, arms

dangling beneath them.  Unlike most squids, which have

two long tentacles and eight shorter arms, the new

squid's arms and tentacles are indistinguishably long.

 

[65] "It's a very exciting animal," said Dr. Clyde

Roper, a zoologist at the National Museum of Natural

History at the Smithsonian Institution.  "This animal

probably doesn't weight more than 25 to 50 pounds.

Most of its length is in these very, very thin, tendrilous

[70] appendages."

 

Without specimens in hand, it is impossible for

scientists to say whether the squids represent one or

more species.  The animals remain unnamed.  The mystery

squids are most similar to small, young squids discovered

[75] several years ago near Hawaii and California

that had large fins and long, slender arms.  Dr.

Vecchione speculated that the new squids might eat

small crustaceans that they grabbed with what scientists

suspected were sticky arms.  "One of the squids actually

[80] got its arms stuck on a submersible, and it had trouble

letting go," he said.  "I think what it has are many really

tiny suckers on it."

 

Dr. Ron O'Dor, a senior scientist at the Census of

Marine Life, says the new finding proves how far biologists

[85] have to go in understanding the deep sea.  "We'll

be exploring essentially unknown territory," Dr. O'Dor

said.  Even as scientists undertook more detailed studies,

he said much would remain unseen because any

animal too fast or too smart to be caught in the lights of

[90] submersibles would remain out of view.