In 2008 a specimen of the Southern Giant Squid (Family Architeuthidae) was donated to the Queensland Museum by UnderWater World on the Sunshine Coast where it had been exhibited for two years encased in ice. This specimen – believed to be a young male – has a total length of about 7 metres. It had been caught in 2004 by fishermen who were targeting hoki fish (Macruonus novaezelandiae) at a depth of 500 metres off the South Island of New Zealand. Giant Squid are among the world’s largest molluscs (the longest recorded being approximately 13 metres), and heaviest invertebrates (up to half a tonne). Only the Colossal Squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, Family Cranchiidae) is thought to be larger (14 metres). Giant Squid eyes, like those of the Colossal Squid, are the largest in the Animal Kingdom, reaching a diameter of approximately 30cm. Like other squid, Giant Squid have powerful suckers each equipped with hardened rings bearing numerous hooks. These assist the squid in prey capture (such as fish) but also leave the circular scars on the heads of sperm whales which actively prey on giant squid. The Giant squid family (Architeuthidae) consists of three named species, but others may as yet lurk in the depths.
Giant Squid (Architeuthis sanctipauli): how the UnderWater World specimen came to the Queensland Museum.
Top: Originally frozen in one large block of ice for exhibition.
Middle: A forklift carries the frozen squid to an awaiting truck.
Bottom: Finally the thawed and preserved specimen in its tank of ethanol in the Queensland Museum Collection
Suckers of the Giant Squid (Architeuthis sanctipauli) showing sharp hooks lining the rim of each sucker (from preserved specimen in Queensland Museum Collection)
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