23 February 1999

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research - NIWA
Greta Point, Wellington, New Zealand

Within minutes of arriving at the NIWA laboratories, Clyde received a call from Steve O'Shea. Yet another giant squid had been captured in one of the deep water fishing trawls and we were being urged to pick it up at the National Museum.


We soon reached the National Museum and made our way up the freight elevator to Bruce Marshall's office where there, propped up in a shopping cart was about a 30 kilogram frozen block--the remains of yet another giant squid. By Steve's count, that makes four Architeuthis specimens that have been found this year alone. Clyde was beside himself with joy as he wheeled the cart into the freight elevator for the trip back to NIWA. As we emerged from the Victoria tunnel, I got to thinking about the fact that here we were, driving through the streets of downtown Wellington with one of the most elusive creatures on the face of the earth, slowly defrosting the in boot (trunk) of Steve's automobile. In Clyde's words, "it certainly seems like Kaikoura is the place to be!"


Clyde and Bruce talked for a while and then they went off into one of the labs and Clyde started poking around in a tray of little, preserved creatures including a very cute octopus that was no more than four inches long.

When we got back to the lab, Clyde and Steve carefully opened the plastic bag that the squid was wrapped in and pulled out the tag which described the depth (approximately 440 meters) and time (February 12, 1999) the squid was caught. Covering the outside of the squid were small, white, threadlike strands. Clyde told me that these were the squid's spermatophores and that in all likelihood, this squid was a small male. The two of us lifted the squid out of the car and carefully placed it on a shelf in the large, walk-in freezer. Walking back to the Lab afterwards, I noticed that yet again, I had managed to cover myself with that distinctive, yet very rare odor of giant squid.

Having just enough time to wash off (although the scent of giant squid is something that seems to linger no matter how hard or how long you wash), Clyde and I rushed down to King's Wharf to watch the Kaharoa's crew prepare to hoist Deep Rover from the dock onto the ship. Using a forklift and great care, the forklift operator under the direction of the Nuytco crew gently maneuvered the sub halfway out of the container. It was at this time that Clyde had his first real chance to "kick the tires." He walked around the sub, peering through the 5 inch thick acrylic sphere to the pilot's seat and where, attached right next to it, was a little gauge with the name "lev-o-gage" printed on it. It is certainly a marvelous little machine....with the emphasis on the 'little.'


For several hours, the Nuytco crew carefully checked the sub over, and started familiarizing Mike and Clyde, the two members of the expedition who will be piloting Deep Rover, with some of its features. To open the two halves of the sphere, Ian inserted a large, handheld crank into a screw just beneath the sphere and started turning it. As Ian turned the crank, the sphere slowly started to move apart at the bottom until the gap was wide enough for one person to be able to crawl through--with shoes off and socks on. Both Mike and Clyde had a chance to get into the sub and see what it felt like to sit in the pilot's seat and put their hands on the control grips. After a while, it was time for the crane to hoist Deep Rover and with ever so much care, swing it across the dock and lower it gently to the fantail....right beneath the Kaharoa's massive A-frame gantry.


Later that evening after all the "work" was done and I had managed to warm up from spending most of the day standing on a very cold, windswept dock, I took a walk into Wellington and sat along the bayfront promenade. Each day I am amazed at the beauty of Wellington and the friendliness of every single person that I had a chance to meet. New Zealanders seem to be very proud of their city and I for one can understand that completely.


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