You've reached (Dr) Steve O'Shea, once museum curator, university professor and giant squid chaser, that nowadays is a bit more mature (in age) academic editor, based in Sydney, Australia. They say every decade we need to reinvent ourselves; well, five decades into this I've recreated myself a number of times.
For nearly 25 years I studied deep-sea life, especially cephalopods (octopus and squid), and participated in many a research expedition around New Zealand, the Bonin Islands in southern Japan, and the Sea of Cortez. These wonderful experiences have seen me reside aboard large ships, coccooned within submersibles, and on the back deck deploying nets, deep-sea robots and sleds. Of all the things that I've done, for excitement value, you simply cannot beat the submersible experience, forhere you find yourself mere metres away from your quarry, an animal or environment that you have studied for most of your life, 1000 metres below the ocean surface.
Not all of my research has involved squid or octopus; many days and nights throughout my career were spent at sea or in laboratories researching the effects of fisheries on the marine environment. Huge areas around New Zealand (offshore in northernmost New Zealand, and seamounts all around New Zealand) have been closed to all forms of bottom trawling and dredging as a consequence of some of my research. Unfortunately fisheries continue to ravage the beautiful deep-sea landscape and its myriad life forms that most people will never get to see, except, perhaps, on television. This is sad. This amazing landscape and its creatures will be lost before people ever get to really appreciate them, clearfelled like we have magnificent forests on land. That is my rant finished.
A long time ago, way back in 2001 with Discovery Channel, my team managed to catch and film juvenile giant squid off New Zealand. This probably brought you to this site. We had these little 'monsters' in tanks aboard our research ship, but despite our best efforts and intentions, all sadly died. Our approach was a simple - there must be hundreds of thousands of juveniles out there for every big adult - all we had to do was catch them and grow them up in captivity. It was, of course, much easier said than done; I do hope someone achieves it one day because it would be quite awsome to see. Others had sought to search for the adult in situ - something considered but a dream until Dr Tsunemi Kubodera went eyeball-to-eyeball with one more than a decade later in 2012. The smile on his face was priceless. Just because it has been done doesn't mean we should stoip trying to do it again. Giant squid are but one of many species of cephalopod, about which we know almost nothing. There are even equally large, and perhaps even larger (at least bulkier) species out there that await the intrepid explorer; there are certainly species out there that are far-more bizarre than the somewhat conventional-looking giant squid, endowed with seriously evil hooks and even scales. YEs, how cool is that? Scales on a squid, almost like a fish!
I've published more than 40 papers on squid, octopus, whales, fisheries and conservation, and been involved in a dozen-or-so documentaries, but today I play a new role in society - one where I help others get established in the scientific community, editing their theses and publications. There's a good chance that squid will beckon me back and that I will again publish in this field, and maybe even be involved in another documentary or two.