The Smithsonian has posted cool videos of Clyde Roper talking about his passion for the giant squid, Architeuthis. Two of the videos are short excerpts of an interview with Roper, and one is a ten-minute documentary with some very neat footage from Roper's squid-hunting expedition.

As you will have gathered from watching the videos, Clyde Roper works at the Smithsonian and has a fabulous beard. He is also the American in what I think of as the Big Three of giant squid. His compatriots are New Zealand's Steve O'Shea and Japan's Tsunemi Kubodera. They are all brilliant, fascinating, very different characters, and I think they ought to be in a movie together--a rugged, gunslinging movie like The Magnificent Seven.

Just to be clear, I speak from whimsy and fangirlish admiration and not much personal experience. I've met O'Shea a couple of times, once in NZ when he very kindly made time to show me around his lab, and later when he visited my advisor's lab in Monterey. (Memorably, he stuck his bare hands in a jar of formalin to pull out a deep-sea squid specimen and get a closer look.)

I've never met Ku, but I saw him talk about the first-ever giant squid video at a cephalopod conference in Tasmania in 2006. If I remember right, Roper got up after his presentation to give him a handmade "giant squid trophy" and a t-shirt celebrating his achievement.

I met Roper briefly in 2003, during an earlier incarnation of the same cephalopod conference in Phuket, Thailand. I was still an undergrad, extremely starstruck by the illustrious company (which also included Chrissy Huffard, later to be famous for describing bipedal locomotion in octopuses), and it was my birthday. Someone got me a card and passed it around to get signatures--including the signature of Squid Hunter Clyde Roper.

That birthday card remains one of my treasured possessions.