Image: Man Holds Tentacle Of A Arcciteuthis Dux Squid At A Beach In La Isla
A man holds a tentacle of a "Arcciteuthis Dux" squid that washed up on La Isla beach, in northern Spain, on Monday.
The Associated Press
updated 9/18/2003 1:14:53 PM ET 2003-09-18T17:14:53

Shock waves from scientific tests carried out by the Spanish navy have killed four giant squid — one the length of a bus — off Spain’s coast in recent days, the head of a marine protection agency said Thursday.

“THE NAVY SHIP the Hesperides is working in the area ... and the shock waves (are the cause of death),” said Luis Laria, president of the Coordinator for the Study of Marine Species Protection, or CEPESMA.

The giant squid, mythologized as the monster that attacked Captain Nemo’s Nautilus in the Jules Verne adventure “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” is the world’s largest invertebrate and lives at depths of up to 6,500 feet (2,000 meters).

Josep Gallard, a leading scientist working on the ship, denied that the techniques used to study the ocean floor were harmful.

“This hypothesis is far from being proven,” Gallard told Reuters from on board the Hesperides. “We use this technique because of its minimal environmental impact. ... The changes in pressure are very slight.”

In the last few days, three giant squid, creatures that are still largely a mystery to scientists, have washed up on Spain’s northern Asturias coast, and a fourth was still floating offshore on Thursday, Laria said. One was 40 feet (12 meters) long.

Last year, three of the deep-sea giants washed up in the same area, and scientists said a range of reasons, from military operations to global warming, could have been to blame.

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