Evonik supports search for giant squid near the Azores

  • Specially developed submersible "Lula1000" with large viewing dome made of PLEXIGLAS® from Evonik

  • Researchers from the Rebikoff-Niggeler Foundation want to film a fully grown giant squid in its natural environment

Evonik Industries AG, Essen, is supporting a three-year project of the non-profit Rebikoff-Niggeler Foundation, which plans to seek out and film the legendary giant squid (Architeuthis) in its natural habitat, using a submersible constructed specifically for this purpose. A central component of the submersible "Lula1000" is a large viewing dome made of PLEXIGLAS® manufactured by Evonik. "We are pleased to be supporting a project that further explores the largely unknown deep sea. The search of "Lula1000" for the Architeuthis will provide us with completely new insights into the fascinating biosphere at these major depths," says Klaus Engel, the chairman of the executive board (CEO) of Evonik.

Underwater pioneers Kirsten and Joachim Jakobsen, the driving force behind the foundation, have now begun their search for the giant squid. They had been waiting for the "Lula1000" to gain approval, which was granted by the classification society Germanische Lloyd SE. With that, the 7.5-meter-long submersible is now cleared to dive to a depth of 1,000 meters below sea level. At this depth, the pressure is 1,000 tons per square meter and no light penetrates the darkness. The PLEXIGLAS® viewing dome plays a key role in the exploration of the deep sea with this manned exploration vessel. The dome, with a diameter of 1.4 meters, was manufactured and shaped in a special process by Evonik. PLEXIGLAS® is not only more durable than glass, but also features better optical quality.

The contact between the foundation and Evonik was established via the production of the PLEXIGLAS® dome, or the "heart of the submersible," as Joachim Jakobsen puts it. He was particularly impressed by the attention to detail involved in custom-tailoring the dome-shaped pane for his project's needs. "Because we are planning to film a live Architeuthis in its natural environment, the high safety of PLEXIGLAS® was just as important as the excellent optical properties of the material. When we dive down, it’s almost as if the dome isn’t even there," says the scientist about his impressions when filming underwater.

The production of the viewing dome was a challenge for Evonik as well. The required PLEXIGLAS®, which was produced by the Acrylic Polymers Business Line, had to be processed without affecting its optical properties. This was done with heat and pressure. Representatives of Germanische Lloyd SE were on site during the development work and then certified the procedure. The production of the viewing dome is an impressive example of Evonik's efforts to continuously improve products that have long been on the market. In 2012, the company spent €393 million on research and development, and the global R&D network of Evonik includes some 2,500 employees at more than 35 sites.

Little is known about the giant squid, which is featured in many myths and stories. Until the second half of the 19th century, sightings of giant squid were considered sailors' yarn. This belief was disproven when remnants of dead giant squids were discovered. The animals, which have eight arms and two tentacles directly attached to their head, can reach a length of more than ten meters. Their natural enemies are sperm whales, which can dive to depths of up to 3,000 meters and feed on squids as their primary diet. The same whales alerted the researchers to the presence of Architeuthis near the Azores. Female whales will hunt for food at depths of 500 and 1,000 meters while rearing their young. The
Azores, where the gigantic ocean creatures can often be observed directly from the beach, are known as one of the world's largest whale territories.

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Silke Linneweber

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Christoph Bauer

Communication Services

Doris Hirsch

PR Management Acrylic Polymers

  • About Evonik

    Evonik, the creative industrial group from Germany, is one of the world leaders
    in specialty chemicals. Profitable growth and a sustained increase in the value of the company form the heart of Evonik’s corporate strategy. Its activities focus on the key megatrends health, nutrition, resource efficiency and globalization. Evonik benefits specifically from its innovative prowess and integrated technology platforms.

    Evonik is active in over 100 countries around the world. In fiscal 2012 more than 33,000 employees generated sales of around €13.6 billion and an operating profit (adjusted EBITDA) of about €2.6 billion.

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