Russian Scientists in Antarctica battle Organism 46b, Antarctic Creature, Lake Vostok Octopus
Organism 46b hunts by first paralyzing its prey with venom. The strange creature seizes and dismembers prey using a powerful beak, breaking the food source into pieces.
The ancients believed in monsters of the deep, serpents hiding under the waves, threatening to capsize the heavy crawling ships of men. Today there is no ocean or lake that has not been probed and found wanting for sea monsters. Except for the freshwater lakes buried beneath the ice of Antarctica.
There is a hidden continent under the ice cap of Antarctica. Ground penetrating radar established the existence of hundreds of lakes on this continent. Because of pressure exerted by the ice, these lakes are not frozen. They are liquid, containing fresh water that has been isolated for at least 15 million years.
The largest of these is Lake Vostok, covered by a glacier two miles thick. On top of the ice sits the Russian Vostok Research Station. It took ten years for the Soviets to drill a vertical tunnel in the ice in which a special elevator was built, designed to hold a single man. In 2012 the eliptical drill bit finally reached, down the eastern shore of the lake. A team of eight men was lowered to the original surface of the continent, one man at a time. What followed was a closely guarded state secret, until a Russian scientist defected to the West.
Dr. Anton Padalka was a member of the Soviet research team. He became a defector after learning his government had military plans for a discovery made in Antarctica. Granted sanctuary in Switzerland, Dr. Padalka disclosed the existence of a life form native to Lake Vostok… a strange and lethal creature designated as Organism 46-B. During a scuba dive for which they required low-temperature wetsuits, the creature was encountered on day one of the expedition.
Organism 46b is a species of giant octopus, but with 14 arms rather than eight. It shares traits of its nearest known relative, “vitreledonella richardi”, the glass octopus. But 46b can do one thing that its smaller cousin cannot. It can paralyze from a distance of 150 feet because its venom is contained in the sac that is normally used for expelling ink. Expedition member Alexis Vindogradov, the radio operator, was dispatched in this way, and the radio was lost.
Like the Mimic Octopus of the Indo-Pacific, 46-B has remarkable powers of camouflage. The Mimic physically changes its form to resemble one of fifteen other aquatic species, such as a lion fish, or a sea snake, or a jellyfish. Again organism 46-B takes this ability one step further. Dr. Padalka witnessed the creature in the shape of a human diver. They thought it was a member of the team swimming toward them. The scientist nearest to the creature, a marine biologist, became the second researcher to lose his life when the organism resumed its shape and ripped him to pieces.
At this point the expedition chief, A.M. Yelagin, decided to use a specimen tank to capture the organism. The only female member of the team, Dr. Marta Kalashnik, was used to lure 46b, not because she was attractive, but because as a former professional athlete, she was judged best able to defend herself. The trap was a success, but one of the sea creature’s arms threatened her. Kalashnik was forced to use her axeto defend herself.
According to Dr. Padalka, when the man-eater was brought to the surface it was confiscated immediately by Soviet security. The international press was told nothing was found. The entrance to the hole was plugged. Russian President Vladimir Putin now intends to weaponize the venom of the prehistoric beast.