LOS ANGELES, California – A research consortium of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, BP America, the U. S. Navy and Joe’s Bait & Tackle Shop have announced success in training a North Pacific giant squid (Architeuthis martensi) to perform wellhead repairs on subsea completions at depths of up to 1000 meters.
Dr. Otto Octtamann, Professor of Icky Ichthyology at Scripps, gave a summary of the project at a press conference held last Thursday at Sheri’s Ranch in Pahrump, Nevada.
After the Macondo disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, we realized that the use of ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicle) to work on the sea floor was too slow and cumbersome in most cases. We first looked at dolphins, given their intelligence and agility, but being air-breathers their dive time and depth is quite limited and besides they don’t have any useful appendages to operate tools.
Moving on to other species, we settled on the giant squid. I mean, they’ve got ten tentacles, breathe water and can dive way down. But, they’re not too smart. We found that the only way it would work is to use a male squid and coat the subsea wellhead with female squid pheromone. Man, he was all over that wellhead in a heartbeat.
The training program is still in its infancy as the squid are not very adept at following orders, or using tools, or doing much more than just wrapping themselves around the wellhead or pipes. We have teams of robotics and neural interface scientists developing bionic hardware and software that should enable the cephalopods to interact with tools built ito their appendages. Also, researchers are currently experimenting on MMA fighters as they tend to show much of the same cranial capacities and characteristics.
Captain Jeffrey T. Spaulding, USN, said that the navy’s interest in the project was originally for a potential use of squids to attack Chinese and Russian submarines. “It finally dawned on us that if we could get close enough to an enemy sub to spray it with pheromone, we could just shoot a torpedo up its ass.”
There is currently one cephalopod in the program, affectionately named Billy the Squid. He is being trained and is waiting on stand-by at Sea World in San Diego.
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