It seems in the depths of the Pacific Ocean a mysterious fight is raging on between migrating shivers of sharks and schools of squid as they duke it out in a massive underwater battle of the titans. Conservationists urge the view of sharks change, as recent discoveries shed light on these mysterious creatures as not coastal predators of humans, but proud warriors that plunge the depths of the ocean seeking out a worthy adversary. And they have found one that even massive whales can have trouble with: the Giant Squid.
Researchers studying migratory patterns of Great White sharks have discovered that they not only spend most of their time 1,600 miles west of the coasts of California, forsaking numerous food sources that would normally be much easier to consume such as smaller fish in order to consume something far more terrifying and largely mysterious to humans. Little is known of why the conflict between sharks and giant squid has been raging, but the relationship between the two species is certainly not one of predator and prey. It is a case where both parties are competent combatants, yet both refuse to give in to the other. To an outsider, the conflict may look almost like a war.
Species of giant squid, from the genus Architeuthis, are known to grow to lengths up to forty three feet. For a size comparison, the average length of a western automobile is fourteen feet. One could easily park four station wagons within the shadow of one of the massive leviathans of the deep. The Great White Shark is on average 18.3 feet in length, but it is a contentious fighter with the tenacity and strength to uphold its reputation as a powerful hunter, not to mention a mouth filled with massive teeth.
So it was with funding from Newport Beach’s George T. Pfleger that scientists voyaged on a 126 foot boat to track the movements of the great white sharks and attempt to discover why the conflict between them and these seemingly alien creatures from the deep. While the conflict itself is happening too deep beneath the ocean to be visually tracked without more funding, the area in which the sharks largely spent their time was an ecologically inactive “desert” beneath the ocean where no life thrives, aside from massive squid. It was this that led scientists to believe the sharks were fighting with the squid. Further evidence came when tracking devices were attached to the sharks’ fins, and they were discovered to be spending a great deal of time feeding on some unknown. Later, a squid carcass was discovered in the vicinity, clearly the loser of a battle between it and one or more sharks. Little was left of the corpse.
Why are sharks migrating to one area in the ocean to fight with a creature that may be one of few that can actually contend with the great white? How, during the course of evolution, did the sharks acquire a taste for squid? And why do they travel such long distances, forsaking other food sources, for the chance to eat something that could kill it within seconds if not attacked just right? Currently the migration of sharks, and their eating of giant squids remains a mystery, and the evolutionary path taken to get to that point will likely remain unexplainable for quite some time.