Monday, August 25, 2008

Giant Squid

Sailors used to tell stories of the Kraken, a great sea monster with long tentacles which could swallow ships whole. It is believed this mythical beast was inspired by the real monsters in the ocean, the giant squid. This creature has been a mystery to science until very recently. The largest giant squid on record is over 60 feet long. It is by far the largest invertebrate in the world, and the biggest mollusk in the ocean.

Giant squid are very elusive and live in such deep water it is almost impossible to seek them out. Scientists knew these squid must be real because they found giant suction cup scars on Sperm-Whales that were known to feed on these giant mollusks. Giant tentacles were then found in the belly of dead Sperm-Whales, and then some bodies of giant squid were found washed up on the beach. But for centuries no living specimens were found, until 2004.

The photo above was taken by a Japanese research team that captured the first live giant squid on record. It was said to have put up quite a fight, but the team finally caught it and pulled it on board. It died while being captured, but its body was measured at 24 feet long. This was not a fully grown specimen. Giant squid are commonly known to grow over twice that size.

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