Is Russia Weaponizing The Giant Squid?

Around 1,300 kilometres from the South Pole is Vostok Station, a former Soviet outpost in the icy tundra of Antarctica Four kilometres below that, deep beneath the ice, is Lake Vostok

Isolated from the outside world for millions of years, scientists believe the fresh water lake holds life that does not exist anywhere else on Earth It was here that a Russian expedition disappeared for five days When they re-emerged, they had discovered a previously unknown species of squid A giant creature with deadly abilities found nowhere else in the animal kingdom And according to the man who found it, Russian President Vladimir Putin is keeping it top secret

In November 2016, Doctor Anton Padalka revealed he had been part of a Russian research expedition to Lake Vostok The glacial ice has been drilled since the late 1990s, and this was the first expedition to send people down into the lake Doctor Padalka says that on the first day of their dive into the freezing waters, they encountered the squid It disabled their radio, in an apparently deliberate manoeuvre It is 33 feet long and has highly advanced shapeshifting camouflage

The team named it Organism 46-B, and the scientists pursued it for the next five days Padalka says it can paralyse its prey from a distance of 150 feet, by releasing its inky venom into the water He claims he lost two of his colleagues to the creature – both killed by its strong limbs When they finally captured it and brought it to the surface, Padalka says Russian government officials were waiting for them They immediately seized the creature and all organic samples and records

The scientists were escorted back to Russia Months later, Doctor Padalka fled to Geneva, where he revealed the secrets of the expedition to Swiss authorities What’s more, he claims that the Russian government is attempting to weaponise the animal Putin’s plan is to seed its eggs in US

freshwater reservoirs and lakes, to kill unsuspecting Americans Russia denies the accusation As silly as it sounds, there is a historical precedent for using animals as weapons of war During the Second World War, the US

A funded Project Pigeon, an attempt to create guided missiles by training pigeons to fly towards enemy targets and then put them inside glass-nosed rockets More practically, the US Navy Marine Mammal Program uses dolphins and seals to rescue stranded divers and locate underwater mines; the Soviets had a similar program which closed in the early 1990s

In fact, rumours that the Soviets trained dolphins to carry out kamikaze attacks on enemy vessels inspired the novel and film Day of the Dolphin Furthermore, scientists believe it is perfectly possible that life exists in Lake Vostok Although it is 4,000 metres below the ice surface and 500 metres below sea level, the lake is 250 kilometres long by 50 kilometres wide, roughly 12,500 kilometres squared of fresh water Given the lake may have been isolated for up to 25 million years, life there is probably unlike anything else on our planet Giant squid and colossal are no longer sea shanty myths, but are recognised species thanks to recent deep sea exploration

Unfortunately, scientists anticipate only microbial life exists in Lake Vostok In fact, one of the primary purposes since research began in 1998 is to find and identify any signs of microbes in the lake In 1999, scientists found DNA fragments of microbes in samples collected by drilling through the ice They believe the environment in the subglacial lake is akin to Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus In theory, learning about life in Lake Vostok will help us find extraterrestrial life in our solar system

However even the traces of life found so far are disputed by scientists Microbiologists David Pearce and Sergey Bulat believe they may not be from the lake, but instead a contaminant from the kerosene which is used as antifreeze when drilling through the glacier Even if life existed in the lake and was as complex as a giant squid, it would not survive long in our world Oxygen levels in the lake are about 50 times higher than oxygen levels in ordinary freshwater lakes on Earth So Putin’s purported plan to spread the killer squid’s eggs into American water supplies wouldn’t work very well

And although Russian news outlets made the effort to debunk Doctor Anton Podalka’s claims, they needn’t have bothered There is no online proof of any Anton Podalka in existence, nor of an icy expedition involving him The story of a scary cephalopod in Lake Vostok was reported in the Daily Express, whose source seems to be a writer called C Michael Forsyth He is a fiction author and former staff writer at the Weekly World News, a known fictional tabloid

In short, if you see or hear reports of a giant killer squid being bred by Russia, they probably aren’t true However, if you believe there is life deep beneath the Antarctic ice and even out among our planetary neighbours, you may well be right

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