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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

 

Squid Blogging

I went over to Melbourne to meet up with the Bettdeckererschnapenderweisle and the boys, who had gone over earlier for her sisters’ multidecade birthday celebration. I got to have my choice of Melbourne outing, as everyone else had been enjoying themselves while I organised exam results, so I chose to go to the museum. This was also a popular choice for the boys as there is a children’s centre in the Museum. SurferDad and Sistersson also came along.

We had a bit of trouble parking, as the museum car park was full, unusual; we thought, as this was a week day and the school holidays were over in Victoria. Then as we tramped up to the entrance, we saw an ABC camera crew setting up. Interesting, we thought. After purchasing our tickets (should we go for the IMAX 3D dinosaur presentation, or the special exhibition on dinosaur eggs and babies, we chose the latter after some indecision), the lady who handed us our tickets casually mentioned, “Oh, and if you go around the corner, they are just about to start the giant squid dissection”. Er, what?

Fishermen had pulled up a recently deceased giant squid off the coast of southern Victoria. The museum was going to do a public dissection of this giant beast, and webcasting the entire event (you can see the webcast here). This was big news in Melbourne (Sydney had the Pope, but Melbourne had a giant Squid, take that Sydney. PZ Myers would be pleased.) but of course I and my family, blithe Adeliadeans who ignore the Sydney-Melbourne rivalry thing, had no idea, and had walked into a big event by accident.

Unfortunately, around half of Melbourne was there as well, even though it was a school day (okay, I exaggerate; it was only about a quarter). I didn’t know there was so much interest in oversized calamari. We could just see the big screen the heads of the crowd, over in corner I could see the Catalyst crew setting up. Still, despite the crowds, we could hear what was going on and see a fair bit. SurferDad and I stayed the longest, the rest wandered off in a parallel exhibit. They were a bit bothered by the overpowering smell of calamari. I did learn that you can tell the age of a squid by the growth bands in its beak, and that Giant squid have a most impressive radula, the rasp like tongue they use to grind down their food. Then we had to go and see the Dinosaur eggs and missed the main part of the dissection.

By the time we came back the dissection was almost over, and they were sewing the squid up for preservation, the crowd had thinned and we could get a good look. SmallestOne and Sisterson were pretty curious, but EldestOne was not really turned on by a mass of tentacles (why I have no idea).

We complemented this completely unexpected event by a quick trip to the marine section, where there was an exhibit on giant squid to learn more. All in all, a most exciting day.

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