The sea contains many mysteries, and among the most enduring of them are giant squids of the genus Architeuthis
. About this squid, known as the "kraken" in classical mythology, we know little, except, oceanographic writer Richard Ellis notes, that "it occasionally washes ashore--and when that happens, we don't know why." Some of these odd creatures, Ellis notes, are 60 feet long, cannibalistic, and patently fierce, with the largest eyes of any animal on the planet (useful for seeing in the inky darkness of the deep sea). They're not the kind of thing you'd want to encounter on a benthic shelf, as Ian Fleming made clear in Doctor No
, in which superspy James Bond had one such unpleasant meeting. But, thanks to Ellis's well-researched account, they make the perfect subject for armchair sleuthing, and he tells you just about everything you'd want to know about the giant squid, from the biologists and explorers and cryptozoologists who have hunted for it over the centuries, and much more. --Gregory McNamee
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Presents a study of the mythology and biology of the real deep sea monster Architeuthis.