Southern Ocean Early March
DRIVING headfirst straight down into the inky blackness, the whale continued his dive to the bottom. Torpedo shaped with an enormous box-like head, his fifty tons of locomotive power relentlessly aimed for the sea floor. At six hundred meters he felt his body crinkle under the immense pressure.
In twenty minutes he was almost at the sea floor. Slowing his rate of descent, he settled into a hovering position just above the seabed. Drawing in seawater through his blowhole, the temperature of the spermaceti oil in his enormous head began to reduce. As it congealed it occupied less volume, making him less buoyant. A position of suspension had been attained.
Automatically, his hunting strategy took over. Using his complex sonar system, he emitted bursts of rapid clicks from his head. The returning sounds pieced together a sonic landscape of the surrounding rocks, cavities, ridges of the seabed, shells and prey.
Motionless. Soundless. A submarine waiting in ambush, he watched the advance of his quarry. The giant squid architeuthis. This colossal invertebrate, measuring over fourteen meters, would be no pushover for him. Apart from its daunting size, it wielded huge tentacles bristling with suckers as big as saucepans, powerful beak-like jaws, poisonous saliva, an ink sac to create camouflage, and above all a highly developed brain.
Watching, sensing, visualizing, two tentative tentacle tips explored towards him. No movement. Deathly still. Spring coiled. Tension controlled.
Attack. Sudden. Swift. Calculated.
On the tremendous up-sweep of his powerful tail he surged forward. Lower jaw dropped, teeth bared. A deadly scoop. Timed to perfection at the precise instant, two enormous tentacles reached out. Feeling. Exploring. Extending tentatively.
Open jaws seized. Encompassed mouth and head of the squid. Lock tight. Crippling pressure. Intense pressure. Building on the attack, he gave a tremendous sweep of his flukes. Tail lifted upwards. Body arched through ninety degrees to a vertical position. The lid of a trap door opening ready to crash shut. Twisting violently, he wrenched free two further tentacles from the seabed. Body groaned as they lock themselves around him. Another violent flick of his tail brutally screwed his body to rip the remaining tentacles free.
Rolling. Twisting. Moving. Always moving. He is locked in deadly conflict.
Enlacing his body, the squid’s interminable tentacles strained to hold him in his mouth. Beak-like jaws began their deadly work. Encircled by the writhing arms his huge jaws tighten. Sixty lance-like ivory teeth set in a narrow lower jaw clamp the slippery writhing squid firmly in place. Huge teeth apply immense pressure, crushing and grinding. Vital organs at the squid’s narrow neck where its head is attached to its body are cut and severed. Unable to escape, its strength rapidly diminishes. The grip of its suckers began to wane. Tentacles relaxed. Beak-like jaws cease chewing. Severed head parts from its body.
The conflict ceased. The seabed resumed its placid calm. The fight was over. He shook himself free.
Conqueror triumphant, he consumed his victory meal.