In Search of Giant Squid

An Expedition into the Depths of the Last Frontier

Fact Sheet

January 30, 1997

1997 Research Expedition: Dr. Clyde Roper of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History will coordinate an international team of scientists on an expedition to study the biodiversity and community structure of Kaikoura Canyon's deep-sea fauna, natural anticarcinogens, food webs, sperm whales, and Architeuthis -- The Giant Squid. The Kaikoura Canyon deep-sea ecosystem is located 1 km off the coast of New Zealand's South Island. The research expedition is in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sea Grant Program's Laboratory of Undersea Vehicles and the National Geographic Society and Television.

Expedition Support: The 1997 expedition is supported by major grants from the International Paper Company's New Zealand subsidiary Carter Holt Harvey, National Geographic Television, The National Geographic Society and its Committee on Research and Exploration, the Office of Naval Research, and private donors.

Schedule: Beginning in early February, 1997, the expeditionary team will probe the abyssal depths of Kaikoura Canyon employing three approaches: exploration with the ODYSSEY II, an autonomous (robotic) underwater vehicle in partnership with Dr. James Bellingham of MIT's Sea Grant Program; deployment of a high sensitivity video camera, the "Crittercam," designed and operated by National Geographic Television; and deployment "Ropecam," tethered video cameras with automatic light and fish bait releasing mechanisms, also supported by the National Geographic Society and National Geographic Television. Research will conclude in late March 1997.

Expedition Team: Dr. Clyde Roper is regarded the world's leading expert on the Giant Squid. His career at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum spans more than 30 years and has resulted in much knowledge about nature's most elusive creature and its squid and octopus relatives. In addition to the Smithsonian Institution, the research team will include scientists from MIT's Sea Grant Undersea Vehicle Laboratory, NASA, Cornell University's Bioacoustics Laboratory, the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, the National Marine Fisheries Service Systematics Laboratory, Great Britian, New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Whale Watch Kaikoura, the Edward Percival Field Station, a marine laboratory at Kaikoura and the National Museum of New Zealand.

Education and Outreach: The 1997 Giant Squid/Deep Sea Expedition updates will appear on the Smithsonian Giant Squid Home Page at or National Geographic Television will film the 1997 Expedition for future broadcast specials and an article will appear in National Geographic Magazine. Through the Smithsonian Natural History's Natural Partners program, school children will follow the 1998 Expedition in electronic classrooms via satellite transmission from the dive sites.

Future Research: Dr. Roper will lead another Smithsonian expedition to Kaikoura Canyon in 1998 using the JOHNSON-SEA-LINK, a manned submersible, to probe the hidden depths of marine ecosystems and the haunts of giant squid and sperm whales. The expedition will be in collaboration with the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, the Natural History Museum of London, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand and NASA. The 1998 Expedition will comprise the largest collaborative marine expedition ever undertaken by the Smithsonian and will have as its primary objective obtaining the first eyewitness account of a living Giant Squid.

For further information, call the National Museum of Natural History's Office of Public Affairs at (202) 786-2950 or (202) 786-2713.

Smithsonian Giant Squid Overview Page

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