Mother Nature did not want us in the ocean. Yet another example of terrifying aquatic life was brought to our attention earlier this week when a 23 feet long giant squid washed up on the shores of New Zealand’s South Island.
The creature was rescued from birds by scientists at the Kaikoura Marine Center and Aquarium, who were highly impressed by the size and features of the new discovery.
To prevent it from decaying, they safely stored it inside a freezer with glass windows that allow them to see it and keep it on display until they’re finally able to do more with the finding.
It was unfortunately dead when the scientists got to it, and they are uncertain as of yet what exactly could have caused the monster’s death, however they also have the remains of a giant squid from 2013 and they are hoping that comparative tests will provide some answers.
On the list of things that scientists do know, Megan Lewis, marine biologist and aquarium owner, did specify that the squid’s stomach was full, so the cause of death was most definitely not hunger – “there are no clear signs of death, no markings on the outside, full stomach, and no foreign objects”.
She gave a statement to a local newspaper, saying that the specimen has been identified as a mature female and she stressed that the animal’s head was in “pristine condition”. The squid was “still fresh” and had all of her parts intact, including her eyes. It had no battle wounds that could have caused her death either.
Lewis also informed that “they tend to grow very fast and live not very long”, but she was not able to pinpoint the exact age of the specimen. She was however able to say with certainty that physical evidence suggests the creature didn’t come from far away and thinks that “the fact that they are present so close to land […] is so exciting to think about!”.
This is highly unusual as giant squids are predatory creatures of the deep sea and the few that have washed up on shore have always been dead.
A spokesperson from the Kaikoura Marine Center and Aquarium posted an online statement, calling the squid a “MASSIVE specimen”. The mantle alone (the bulk of the squid’s body) is over 6.6 feet long, with its eye measuring roughly 3.15 inches wide, and its longest tentacle reaching 16.4 feet in length. The full length of the squid’s body from tip to toe is 23 feet long.
While its size is impressive, it’s important to note that the largest giant squid to have even been found by mankind had a length of 59 feet and a weight of about a ton. Scientists also inform that most of a squid’s weight is in its head.
Samples of the newly found squid have sent to Auckland and Otago universities for further research.
Giant squids have fascinated storyteller since the beginning of time, with authors such as Jules Verne (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea) and H.P. Lovecraft (Cthulhu), and movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Clash of the Titans, being just a few of the names that have used the creature to inspire horror and fascinate audiences.
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