He Took Biology on a Dare. Now, He’s Got Video of a Giant Squid

Image Sönke Johnsen, second from left, via Dante Fenolio, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Sönke Johnsen chose to study physics at Swarthmore College in the 1980s because it was close to a family friend’s hardware store. That’s just one of many paths that led Johnsen to help capture the first video of a giant squid in U.S. waters, writes Carter Forinash for The Duke Chronicle.

Johnsen’s physics dream was short-lived, as he jumped to mathematics, then, on a dare, biology.

“We each went through the alphabet, and I stopped at B for biology for no good reason,” he said. “We literally dared each other to go to graduate school in a subject from the alphabet.”

In between mathematics and biology, he set up a daycare center, taught kindergarten and first grade, and worked as a carpenter.

Johnsen was a professor of biology at Duke University by the time of the squid sighting this summer.

Johnsen, with a team of researchers around the country, led a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration exploration cruise that brought back the squid footage.

It was not his first time in the spotlight.

He was cited by novelist Michael Crichton as a scientific source for The Lost World, the sequel to Jurassic Park.

Read more about Sönke Johnsen in The Duke Chronicle here.

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