Colossal squid is as long as a minibus!
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!
Lexile: 1110L

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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, when scientists in New Zealand got a long-anticipated chance to thaw out the animal and inspect it once 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 people 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 of them. 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, 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 public 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, and sailors may have mistaken that for epic battles.

Critical thinking challenge: Why was the squid kept frozen?

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Assigned 35 times

  • AndyB-Ver
    9/19/2014 - 10:14 a.m.

    i don't know how a squid that big could be kept that frozen for that long,and its eyes are about the size of dinner plates.i think its cool

  • TreverH-Ver
    9/19/2014 - 10:14 a.m.

    After reading this passage a couple question popped into my head. The first one being how the squid kept frozen under water and how could they tell it was frozen. How rare is this squid

  • Arigirl16
    9/19/2014 - 12:35 p.m.

    That is a huge squid.Plus I can't belive that whales eat giant squid.I wonder what it woud taste like to.770 pounds! I think this is a cool squid.I know that this will not give up a fight!

  • KellerB-2
    9/19/2014 - 01:27 p.m.

    one day in Antarctica a man cough a giant squid the size if a minibus. the colossal squid was 770 lbs. the squid was a fem ail with eyes like dinner plates and tentacles like fire hoses. Kat Bolstered a squid scientist described the squid as very big and very beautiful. i think that this as a wonder full discovery in the field of science.

  • LukeM-5
    9/19/2014 - 05:08 p.m.

    this article is about a sailor named captain Bennet finding a catching a 770lb colossal squid in the remote Ross sea. this was the second colossal squid he found the last he gave to a museum to be put on display. however he wanted his second find to be researched by scientists. the scientists just figured out how to thaw out the squid. they found out it was a female with tentacles three and a half feet long with two twice that size. they also said that the squid was as long as a minibus. the article also said that 142,000 people watched the squid be dissected on the Internet

  • amanq-Koc
    9/21/2014 - 08:30 p.m.

    It is incredible to think that such large and majestic creatures roam the depths of our oceans. The colossal squid is truly a great and powerful creature that we know so little about. I really do hope to see more on colossal squid and hopefully we will be able to find and observe live specimen in the pursuit of science!

  • jarredc-Koc
    9/22/2014 - 12:12 a.m.

    It is a known tale among sailors about the kraken. Scientist have long been studying what they can about the ocean, and each new discovery is a step towards understanding our world. The giant squid is one of the more known species of squid.

  • Alyssaaa_
    9/22/2014 - 12:49 p.m.

    Creo que el calamar se mantuvo congelado para que pudieran perserve y mantenerlo a salvo. Tambien pienso eso para que la gente lo vea y pueden aprender mas de este animal.

  • ParthH-Pay
    9/22/2014 - 12:54 p.m.

    Why was the squid kept frozen? The squid was kept frozen so it would not decompose on the way back to New Zealand for inspection.

  • JamesW-Pay
    9/22/2014 - 12:57 p.m.

    I think the squid was kept frozen in order to preserve it. If something freezes, then it won't decompose and stay in whatever state that it was frozen in.

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