Everybody’s seen a shark. But how many people have seen the dreaded Humboldt squid, a fearsome creature that swims in the Sea of Cortez?
These squid can grow to six feet across and weigh 130 pounds, and will attack anything -- sharks, humans, even each other. They also typically change color four times a second, from ivory white to deep brownish red.
In the IMAX film "Deep Sea," narrated by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, director (and San Diegan) Howard Hall shows an array of geographically diverse underwater communities few of us will ever see firsthand. The film plays in the Heikoff Dome Theater at the The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
You'll see both pretty creatures like moonjellies (small, half-dome shaped jellyfish that float gracefully through the water) and beauty-challenged ones, like the Wolf eels of British Columbia – gray and ugly eaters of sea urchins.
There are weird-looking feather stars, a sort of starfish with long, hairy-looking tentacles. And night hunters like the gentle giant Manta rays off Kona, Hawaii, that can measure 18 feet, wingtip to wingtip -- and eat only plankton.
Off Catalina Island, you’ll see the small but fierce Mantis shrimp (a long green caterpillar-shaped critter with an otherworldly face) take on a much larger octopus – and win. Only 11 inches long, the Mantis shrimp sports powerful claws clocked at the speed of a 22-caliber bullet.
But “Deep Sea” is more than a freak show or an underwater travelogue; it's about symbiosis and the law of nature.
Underwater communities consist of varied creatures, predators and prey, and the point of the show is as much to illustrate the interdependence of the underwater world and the threats to it.
For example, in the waters off Kona, green sea turtles depend on reef fish to clean algae that collects on their shells. If the fish didn’t do their job, turtles would eventually have trouble swimming; as it is, reef fish get to snack while the turtles get cleaned.
Likewise, barracuda depend on their usual prey – hogfish – to do the cleaning honors.
But the balance in many underwater communities is under threat, and Hall points out that human overfishing of sharks is part of the reason.
In case you’re wondering how you keep an octopus from “returning to his trailer” and refusing to show up “on set” at the right time, the answer lies in experience: choosing subjects that are predictable enough.
“Deep Sea” allows us landlubbers a glimpse of a world few humans ever see. If you're as fascinated by undersea life as I am, "Deep Sea" is the show for you.
"Deep Sea" can be seen in IMAX in the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center’s Heikoff Dome Theater in San Diego's Balboa Park.
For tickets, click HERE.
To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.