For the second time in recent months, a giant sea creature has washed ashore in California. First it was a rare oarfish that had grown to a freakish 100-foot length. This time it was a giant squid measuring a whopping 160 feet from head to tentacle tip.
These giants look different but experts believe they share one important commonality: they both come from the waters near the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant in the Futaba District of Japan.
Scientists believe that following the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant an unknown number of sea creatures suffered genetic mutations that triggered uncontrolled growth – or “radioactive gigantism.”
Unfortunately, this cadre of mutant giants seems to be drifting towards the continental U.S. Local officials in Santa Monica, CA – where the creature drifted ashore – tried to calm residents. “This creature appears to be deceased and even if alive only thrives in water,” said Santa Monica Parks Manager Cynthia Beard. “We intend to move the creature in pieces to Scripps Research Institute so that they can study it,” she noted.
Although not yet well understood, radioactive gigantism is said to result when radiation causes changes to the growth regulating portions of the DNA of affected organisms. When growth regulators fail to control cellular growth, an organism may reach many times its regular body size.
Local radioactive gigantism expert Santa Marino College biology professor Martin L. Grimm, PhD said that the nuclear disaster may have had some unintended benefits. “These creatures give us the chance to study radioactive gigantism,” he said. Grimm believes that harnessing radioactive gigantism may be like harnessing the atom to create atomic energy. “Imagine a tuna fish that could feed a city the size of Austin, Texas,” he said. “This is the possibility of radioactive gigantism.”