WARNING: this one is so strange that I think it's safe to say that I'm somewhere between 99 and 100% skeptical of it, but even then, it's worth passing along and filing away in your "Strange Stuff and Rumors about Antarctica" file. To be sure, I think this story has all the distinct "odor" of one of those stories that occasionally comes along that has been deliberately planted on the internet, perhaps to have a bit of fun, or perhaps just to track to see where it travels in cyber space, and who picks it up and talks about it. It was shared by C.J.D.M., but before we can get to it, first a little background as to why I'm sharing it at all, given my skepticism.
For one thing, I'm sharing it on the off chance that that 0.000.....1 percent that avoids my skepticism might prove to be true. So with that in mind, down to my other reasons.
Regular readers here know that I think something mighty strange is "up" down there. I've rehearsed the strangeness of the place many times on this website (and in my books dealing with what I've called the post-war "Nazi International"). At the risk of boring those who know those books and previous blogs, permit me to bring anyone who may not know up to speed. The strangest thing about Antarctica is the list of people associated with the place. That list includes:
- Nazi Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering, founder of the Luftwaffe and Gestapo, and ultimate sponsor of the 1938-1939 expedition to that continent, about which there is much conjecture and little fact;
- Nazi Party head and Hitler's personal deputy thereto, Reichminister Rudolf Hess, whose connections to the continent (and to Goering) are strange indeed. It's too complicated a story to recount here, save to note that the subject of Antarctica was delicately raised by a British diplomat in conversation with Herr Hess after the latter's famous flight to Great Britain in May 1941. (For the complicated story, see my book Hess and the Penguins which is available in the bookstore on this site). The mere fact that the subject would be obliquely raised during these conversations leads me to think that the public story for the Nazi expedition - that they were looking for fishing grounds and lubricants from whales - is a cover story, much like the story put out in connection to America's postwar Operation Highjump expedition to the continent (see bel0w, number 5);
- Current Ottomaniac and would-be sultan Mr. Erdogan of Turkey, who wants a permanent Turkish presence on the continent;
- Various "royals", including Spanish King Juan Carlos, who along with Britain's Prince Harry, have visited the continent;
- Admiral Richard Byrd, whose postwar expedition - Operation Highjump - was somewhat suspiciously called off after only a few weeks, when it was outfitted for several months' stay. The expedition, as anyone familiar with it knows, was a rather large scale military affair, complete with some Marines, an escort aircraft carrier, and so on. The expedition was planned with the personal involvement of the then head of the naval staff, Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, and then Secretary of the Navy John Forrestal. The public was told that the expedition was simply to test Arctic tactics and equipment, but as I've pointed out, Alaska or Canada would have done for that; there was no need to outfit an entire fleet and bear the expense of an expedition which was ended much sooner than intended. The ending itself, as most who are familiar with it know, is shrouded in suspicion, since Admiral Byrd gave an interview to a reporter of the El Mercurio newspaper of Santiago de Chile who was traveling with the small press corps on the journey, saying words to the effect that the USA would have to prepare to defend itself against aircraft that could fly from pole to pole at tremendous speed. Needless to say, these remarks touched off a firestorm of speculation that continues to this day;
- Former U.S. Secretary of State John "Ketsup" Kerry, who in the middle of a diplomatic junket during one of the most hotly contested elections in American history in 2016, took a little detour to the continent because (we were told) he was personally interested in "climate change" and wanted to see it firsthand (uh huh... yea... sure). At the time, I speculated that perhaps Kerry's visit was really about conducting diplomacy. If so, then the questions is, with whom? and why there?
- Apollo 11 astronaut Ed "Buzz" Aldrin, who visited the continent, and allegedly tweeted some odd things about his visit, both before and after it. For example, prior to boarding his flight from South Africa to the continent, he tweeted that he was "going to the launchpad," leaving people to wonder whether that was "astronautese" for the flight to Antarctica, or whether it was intended as a reference to the continent itself. Then, falling ill during his visit, he had to be evacuated, but not before allegedly tweeting that what he saw down there was "evil."
With that context in mind, recall that many years ago there was something of a minor "furor" over whatever it was that the Russians had discovered in their deep drilling efforts over Lake Vostok, a vast underground lake on the polar continent. One story was that during their deep drilling they found a form of life that existed in no known list. (See the following, for example: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-antarctica-idUSBRE92611L20130307)
As can be seen, the idea that an unknown life form in the form of microbial life is not implausible, especially in an underground lake on an isolated continent, which lake itself has been isolated from the rest of the world for quite some time, millions of years in fact.
But... now there's a new story, and it is a whopper doozie, because the source of the story, a Dr. Anton Padalka, was allegedly on that Russian team doing the drilling at Lake Vostok, and according to him, they found much more than microbes:
Now this, as I say, is a whopper. It may be the biggest "big fish" story ever, except in this case, we're dealing with one of my favorite animals: the octopus. So, picking out the important paragraphs from the story, here's what we have:
GENEVA — A defecting Russian scientist has surfaced with a mind-bending account of what REALLY occurred when he and his colleagues went missing for five days in a mysterious lake 12,366 feet beneath the Antarctic ice.
Dr. Anton Padalka told authorities in Switzerland that the researchers discovered a bizarre and deadly life form dubbed Organism 46-B – a highly intelligent octopus-like creature that claimed the lives of three of the team members.
But the government of Russian president Vladimir Putin claimed that “nothing of scientific interest” was found – because the former KGB strongman hopes to weaponize the organism.
“The discovery of such unusual life in Lake Vostok was the most important scientific breakthrough in decades, but we were ordered not to divulge it because of Mr. Putin’s sinister scheme,” the whistleblowing geologist told the Swiss.
It was in early February 2012 that members of the Russian Antarctic Expedition succeeded in the drilling through more than two miles of thick ice to Lake Vostok – a project that took more than 30 years. Because the freshwater lake has been sealed off from the rest of the world for between 15 and 34 million years, scientists had predicted they would find new species that had evolved far differently than any seen before.
Just as the eight man team neared the lake all communication with the outside world mysteriously ceased. As days crept by and the researchers failed to respond to increasing frantic efforts to reach them by radio, fellow scientists worldwide feared the worst.
“No word from the ice for 5 days,” Dr. John Priscu, a professor of ecology at Montana State University and head of a similar Antarctic exploration program grimly told Fox News at the time. “I can only imagine what it’s like.”
Or maybe he couldn’t. Dr Padalka claims that during this time, he and his colleagues were fighting for their lives in the lost world deep beneath the earth’s surface.
“We encountered Organism 46-B on day one as we were conducting a preliminary dive in our low-temperature wetsuits,” he recounts. “It disabled our radio, which we later learned to our alarm, was intentional.”
Although the creature has 14 arms instead of the usual eight, it kills in a similar manner to an ordinary octopus — seizing its prey, injecting it with paralyzing saliva then dismembering it into small pieces with its beak. But Organism 46-B has another trick up its sleeve.
“It is able to paralyze prey at a distance of up to 150 feet by releasing its venom into the water from an organ similar to its ink sac,” explained Dr. Padlaka. “Tragically, my colleague and life-long friend Dr. Vindogradov was killed this way. He tread water wearing a blissful smile as the organism approached him. We watched helplessly as it used its arms to tear off his head, then popped his remains its mouth. It was as if it had hypnotized him telepathically.”
The 33-foot-long man-eater also boasts extraordinary camouflage that helped it stalk the researchers.
“Many species of octopus can alter their appearance, usually to avoid larger predators,” Dr. Padalka explained. “Sacs of colorful pigments called chromatophores allow them to change colors, and by contracting their muscles they can blend in with the smooth ocean floor or a craggy coral reef. The well-known mimic octopus can contort its boneless body to take on the shape of a sea snake or stingray.”
But the shape-shifting abilities of Organism 46-B sound almost diabolical.
“It shaped itself into the form of a human diver. We thought it was one my colleagues swimming toward us in scuba gear. By the time the closest scientist realized what it was, it had grabbed him and torn him to bits.”
If an arm of an ordinary octopus is cut off, the severed limb will crawl away – sometimes even seize prey and place it in the mouth of the octopus. Experts say that’s because each arm contains a cluster of neurons – essentially its own brain. The arms of Organism 46-B demonstrated a chilling knack for operating autonomously.
“After our sole female researcher chopped off one of the arms with an ax, the severed limb yanked the weapon out of her hands,” recalled the scientist. “That night the arm slithered onto the icy bank where we were sleeping and strangled her.”
The experts believe that not only does the octopus regenerate its limbs, the brainy severed tentacle may be able to form a new octopus.
Octopuses are extraordinarily intelligent, able to negotiate mazes, use tools and even build structures with Legos. The newly discovered entity is in a class by itself.
“From the way it adapted each time we changed our tactics, we became convinced it is at least as intelligent as an average human,” Dr. Padalka revealed. “If we were not all Ph.Ds, I fear it would have in the end outwitted us.”
A fourteen-armed (or rather, tentacled) octopus, that's thirty-three feet long (hmmm... thirty-three)!? Ok, I can buy the intelligence part. One can go on Youtube and look at any number of videos of octopus solving complex puzzles, or even watching other octopus solving complex puzzles, and then doing the same task themselves. One can find videos of them collecting baubles and junk from the seafloor to decorate their lairs, solving puzzles, and building things. I can even buy the "battle with the evil octopus" idea, and even that it deliberately smashed their radio. I can even buy the shape-shifting into a form looking like a scuba-diver, because octopus are masters of camouflaging themselves to look like something else, from sea snakes to coral reefs or a rock. And curiously enough, there have been for a number of years stories of battles in (or beneath) Antarctica, with postwar British SAS forces battling everything from Nazis to "monsters". Indeed, Nexus magazine ran a series about this allegation many years ago.
Believe it or not, none of this, really, makes the whole story questionable to my mind. What makes it highly dubious in my opinion is this:
Miraculously, the eggheads were able to capture the creature in a tank. After the five surviving scientists made their way to the surface, the program’s director ordered that the bore hole be immediately plugged. The geologists expected to be honored internationally for their amazing find. To their great disappointment, however, the Russian government claimed that the team had found no life in Lake Vostok – and denied that divers had even entered the water. (Emphasis added)
Really? A tank big enough to hold a fourteen-tentacled octopus that's also a Scottish Rite Freemason? (After all, it was 33 feet long! That's quite a secret handshake!) How did the Russians manage to get a tank big enough to fit such a large octopus (perhaps we should call it a quattuoropus, since it has fourteen tentacles) through the bore hole? And how, in spite of all their troubles, did they manage to herd it into the tank? And presumably, they did this to bring it to the surface through that bore hole, requiring heavy lift equipment?
So yea, color me (extremely) skeptical on this one. But at least it was 99.999...9 percent entertaining.
It's that other 0.000...1 percent that I find disturbing.
See you on the flip side...