Colossal squid is as long as a minibus! Capt. John Bennett shows a colossal squid he and and his crew caught on the boat in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea (- AP photo / ThinkStock)
Colossal squid is as long as a minibus!
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It was a calm morning in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea, during the season when the sun never sets, when Capt. John Bennett and his crew hauled up a creature with tentacles like fire hoses and eyes like dinner plates from a mile below the surface.

A colossal squid: 770 pounds, as long as a minibus and one of the sea's most elusive species. It had been frozen for eight months until Tuesday. That's when scientists in New Zealand got a long-anticipated chance to thaw out the animal and inspect it. They used a forklift to maneuver it into a tank.

The squid is a female, and its eight arms are each nearly 3 and a half 3 feet long. Its two tentacles would have been perhaps double that length if they had not been damaged.

Kat Bolstad, a squid scientist from the Auckland University of Technology, described it as "very big, very beautiful."

"This is essentially an intact specimen, which is almost an unparalleled opportunity for us to examine," she said. "This is a spectacular opportunity."

Many people around the world agreed. About 142,000 from 180 countries watched the squid examination on the Internet.

Colossal squid sometimes inhabit the world of fiction and imagination. But have rarely been seen in daylight. Remarkably, Bennett and his crew on the San Aspiring toothfish boat have caught two. Their first, hauled in seven years ago, is on display in New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa.

Bennett said there was so much excitement about his previous catch, he thought he had better save the latest one for research.

"It was partly alive, it was still hanging onto the fish," Bennett recalls. "Just a big bulk in the water. They're huge, and the mantle's all filled with water. It's quite an awesome sight."

Susan Waugh, a senior curator at Te Papa, said scientists hope to find out more about where the creature fits in the food chain. They also want to learn how much genetic variation there is among different squid types. And basic facts about how the colossal squid lives and dies.

She said scientists plan to further assess the condition of the squid before determining whether to preserve it for display.

Bolstad said it's possible that ancient sightings of the species gave rise to tales of the kraken, or giant sea-monster squid. She said sperm whales often eat colossal squid and are known to play with their food. Sailors may have mistaken that for epic battles.

Critical thinking challenge: Why was the squid kept frozen?

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COMMENTS (243)
  • TrentonT-Ver
    9/19/2014 - 09:12 a.m.

    This squid looks something you see in the movies or in old fairytales! Its a shame that this squid had to die for us to examine it.

  • JonathonC-Ver
    9/19/2014 - 10:13 a.m.

    I wonder if there are bigger squids than this colossal squid. Also for my curiosity I wonder if the colossal squid has any other way of breeding with other species of squid and how they came to be.

  • GabiD-1
    9/19/2014 - 10:19 a.m.

    Tuesday a colossal squid was found. It was 770 pound, the size of a small school bus. it had been frozen for eight months. The squid is a girl and each of her tentacles were three feet long! about 142,000 though this was an amazing opportunity for examination. Scientists all over the world are raving about the squid. I think it is really amazing that an animal like this exists.

  • EmilyBu-Moo
    9/19/2014 - 10:32 a.m.

    That is a very prodigious squid! I'm glad they found it but I wish they would have let it go back to its environment and live longer, but I do understand they why they want to examine it because I know if I would have found it I would have probably wanted to examine how did it get this big! Hopefully we will see more of these squids in the future!

  • BlakeH-Moo
    9/19/2014 - 10:48 a.m.

    This squid must have been swimming through that area and got frozen in the ice and it may have had more with it so I think they should check for more.

  • AG2001TACO
    9/19/2014 - 01:03 p.m.

    The squid was kept frozen because scientists know that when things get covered in amber or ice it preserves them and stops them from decaying. If a scientist could look at a contained extremely rare creature that would not decay and decompose before examination, I'm pretty sure he would love to take the chance

  • L2000neon
    9/19/2014 - 01:08 p.m.

    I think the size of the squid is cool but the look of it is nasty. I wouldn't want to examine things like that for a living.

  • jasmineolea-McC
    9/19/2014 - 01:21 p.m.

    Why does the squid weight 770 pounds . This story is a good story. I wonder why some squid are little and some squids are big.

  • martinshark3
    9/19/2014 - 02:07 p.m.

    That is the biggest squid I've ever seen. If I saw that when I was swimming, I'd freak out, but still I think that thing is cool.

  • 10Kaleb-May
    9/19/2014 - 02:38 p.m.

    wow that is so what did that thing eats i wonder what would be faster because they are the same size so same speed right. this was gross when i saw it.

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