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Detailed information on the exhibits, research projects, and programs tailored for journalists. For more information or questions please contact Burke Museum Public Relations.

August 13, 2007

Smithsonian Exhibit Sheds Light on Mysterious Beast

In Search of Giant Squid Sept. 22 – Dec. 31, 2007

SeattleGiant Squid: They can be longer than a school bus, and often weigh over 1,000 pounds. But who has ever seen one? Beginning September 22, the Burke Museum will host In Search of Giant Squid, a Smithsonian nationally touring exhibit thatexplores what is known about these mystifying animals and describes scientists' ongoing efforts to observe them in their undersea environment.

In Search of Giant Squid features a rare giant squid beak and suckers and examine the myths and legends that surround giant squid. Compare the giant squid with other squids and mollusks, and explore what is known about how they hunt, move, and defend themselves. Learn about scientists' research on their anatomy and behavior. Interactive components allow visitors to compare their own size to a giant squid and experience the giant squid's presumed environment. Nautilus fossils and ammonites from the Burke Museum’s own permanent collection will supplement the exhibit.

This exhibition comes to the Burke during an exciting time for researchers of these enormous marine animals. Scientists are just beginning to unlock some of the secrets of the giant squid’s natural history. In December 2006, researchers in Japan captured on film the elusive giant squid, live and in the wild, for the first time ever. Prior to this, giant squid could only be studied when their bodies washed ashore, became entangled in a fisherman’s net, or were found in the bellies of sperm whales. With recent photographs and video footage of the animals, the opportunities for researchers to decipher these mysterious creatures have expanded greatly.

Measuring up to 60 feet, the giant squid has been depicted in literature and popular culture as a “sea monster.” Not true, but giant squid are still relatively mysterious animals. What is known is that giant squid live at depths of 650 to 2,600 feet below the ocean’s surface, they have the world’s largest eyes, and their only predator is the sperm whale. There is little known about how giant squid live, breed, and hunt.

In Search of Giant Squid has been developed by the National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in partnership with the Discovery Channel. The exhibition is made possible by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Local sponsorship has been generously provided by The Boeing Company, Ivar’s Salmon House, Microsoft Corporation, and U.S. Bank. Additional support has been provided by Battelle, Smithsonian Community Grant (funded by MetLife Foundation), UW College of Arts and Sciences, UW College of Ocean and Fisheries Sciences, and donors to the Burke Museum Annual Fund. Special thanks to community partners King County Library Systems, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, Port Townsend Marine Science Center, and Seattle Aquarium.

Related Events

Sat., Sept. 22, 2007
10 am – 5 pm
Opening Day: In Search of Giant Squid

Join the Burke Museum for a fun-filled opening day of In Search of Giant Squid: take a tour with the Burke curator of mollusks, get your hands dirty by dissecting a squid, and sing-a-long with live performances of sea shanties.

Sat., November 3, 2007
10 am – 4 pm
Meet the Mammals

Burke mammalogists bring out the specimens and discuss all things mammalian. Special guests this year are Jim and Jamie Dutcher presenting"Living with Wolves."

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