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National Geographic: Sea Monsters

Operative word in "Search for the Giant Squid" is "Search," as the docu's major drive involves descriptions of the creature, pictures of lesser squid forms, and glorious underwater footage of sperm whales, who dine on elusive giant squid at the bottom of the sea. It's the getting there that counts, and it's a grand trip.

Cast:
Narrator: Stacy Keach.

Operative word in “Search for the Giant Squid” is “Search,” as the docu’s major drive involves descriptions of the creature, pictures of lesser squid forms, and glorious underwater footage of sperm whales, who dine on elusive giant squid at the bottom of the sea. It’s the getting there that counts, and it’s a grand trip.

How’s it known sperm whales eat squid? By counting squid beaks in leviathans’ bellies — as many as 18,000 beaks were found in one whale alone. Now wonder squid are shy.

Lots of info about cephalapods is dished out, including the news that the giant squid’s never had its picture taken. They live in that deep water, often grow to about 60 feet, weigh almost a ton, and are both strong and smart. They fancy New Zealand, Norway and Newfoundland, and they can change color instantly for communication with one another.

“It’s the perfect sea monster in fantasy, and a formidable predator,” the program explains. “In fact, it dwarfs most other life in the sea. It deploys a writhing mass of suckered arms and tentacles which snare its prey and jam it into a parrot-like beak.” Such colorful description is capped with, “It stares at the world with the largest eyes in the animal kingdom.”

Like the unicorn, it has never been photographed alive, and manages to escape the camera here, as well.

The giant squid does exist, though, as carcasses have been found strewn on beaches or have been hauled out of the water. And of course they’ve engendered centuries-old legends, sailor scares and the amusing NBC’s “Peter Benchley’s “The Beast” back in ’96.

Since whales make their secret way down to squidland, scientist Greg Marshall, who has invented a Crittercam video device that’s slapped on a wild animal’s back to record where it’s going and what it’s doing, has applied his device to a sperm whale, and it’s an entertaining, experimental ride as whales commune, nuzzle one another and make clicking sounds.

Program’s another worthy NGS offering, with expert camerawork and editing, a good score and a fascinating look into a world where whales are seen cavorting like dolphins when the whales aren’t sleeping vertically, heads down, in stately fashion.

National Geographic: Sea Monsters

Wed.(25), 8-9 p.m., NBC-TV

Production: Filmed in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico, by National Geographic TV. Exec producer, Nicholas Noxon; series senior producer, Barry Nye; senior producer, Teressa Koenig; producer, John Rubin. Co-producer-editor, Emmanuel Mairesse; directors, Kevin McCarey, Rubin; writer, McCarey.

Crew: Camera, Shane Moore, Jeff Wayman, Greg Marshall; series supervising editor, Nye; sound, Dave Ruddick, Janet Urban, Kevin Meredith, Mary Kaigler-Schaffer.

With: Narrator: Stacy Keach.

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