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Water Noise Killing Off Giant Squid

The legendary giant squid, which has only recently beendiscovered to be real, is being killed by all the noise inthe ocean. Unusually high numbers of them are washing up onSpanish beaches. Scientists think they're being killed bythe loud, low frequency sounds made by oil drilling in theocean.

Scientists have never seen living giant squids in theirnatural habitat?they only know they exist because they?vefound dead specimens. Before that, these creatures werethought to be tall tales told by fishermen.

Debora MacKenzie writes in New Scientist that militaryexercises are also killing off marine life. In 2002, NATOexercises with high-intensity sonar were blamed for thelarge number of beached whales.

Geologists were conducting offshore seismic surveys for oiland gas the week that a nine squid washed up in Spain,firing 200 decibel pulses of sound below 100 Hertz from 10air guns. Two of the squid had their stomachs and heartsripped open and their muscles had disintegrated. All of themhad damaged ears.

The noise may have disoriented the creatures, causing themto swim to the surface from the depths where they normallyreside. They would have then suffocated, as the water thereis too warm for the oxygen-carrying molecules in their bloodto function correctly. In the squid with internal damage, hethinks blasts of sound causes dissolved gases in theirtissues to form bubbles that burst.

Marine scientist Angel Guerra says, "Some organs wereunrecognizable. No one has ever seen this before in giantsquid."

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