A depressing study shows that military and industrial noise may be killing off cephalopods. On the bright side, at last we have a way to fight squid-like monsters.
In real life, squid don't do much except provide us with calamari and look disgusting when they're shown mating on nature shows. But in fiction, they've attacked human beings many times. They've come from outer space in Monsters, they've run rampant over Japanese manga, and they've sacked New York in the Watchmen comic book. In stories, they're invincible. Now, in reality, we have a way of killing them off without even meaning to.
Over the past decade, there have been a lot of squid washing up on beaches. In 2004 and 2008, thousands of Humboldt squid washed up on beaches. Humboldts are up to seven feet long, carnivorous, and hunt in packs of up to twelve hundred - so they're not a delicate bunch. In 2001 and 2003, giant squid washed up on beaches in Spain.
The giant squid washed up at around the time that boats were using seismic air guns to map the sea bed, but researchers couldn't be sure that there was a connection. The ocean is a noisy environment. Recently, scientists tried subjecting four different species of cephalopods to low intensity, low frequency noise. When the scientists examined the squid afterwards, they found that the small, fluid-filled sacks that helped the squids balance and orient themselves were damaged almost immediately. Over time, the sound waves caused actual holes to open up in the squid's heads.
Unfortunate for marine life. Pleasing for those concerned about alien - or terrestrial - squid invasion. The study focused on low-frequency sound, which carries best underwater, but higher frequencies may work well in air, especially at close range. Humans could protect themselves with ear plugs, but squid monsters can't protect the sacks in their heads without some kind of full-body armor - which has to be cumbersome. We can drill holes right through their heads with snatches of songs from Glee. Sure, nothing is after us right now, but if any io9ers are heading through a squid-infested part of the ocean, bring a boombox.