Beware the giant squid
April 3, 2003 12:52 AM   Subscribe

'A colossal squid has been caught in Antarctic waters, the first example of Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni retrieved virtually intact from the surface of the ocean. ' Related (old news from January) :- giant squid attacks boat.
More squid sites :- Search for Giant Squid, a Smithsonian exhibit about a 1999 expedition. 'Whether living or extinct, on land or at sea, in literature or in life, large animals have long fascinated people. The largest animals have been known and hunted since prehistory: whales, walruses, elephants, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, and large fishes... However, one large animal has gone almost unnoticed or certainly unobserved in its habitat. That animal is the giant squid. Although these animals have been found in the nets of commercial fishermen, in the stomachs of sperm whales, and washed ashore on different continents, no scientific information has been gathered by direct observations of live giant squid ... '
The UnMuseum's article on the giant squid.
posted by plep (23 comments total)
posted by iamck at 2:05 AM on April 3, 2003

The Kraken leaps out of legend!
posted by BigCalm at 2:14 AM on April 3, 2003

These are fascinating creatures. However, the colossal specification seems to be far fetched. These scientists are making big estimates for a specimen one to it's own.

Colossal brings up images of the x-men character Colossus. He is an impenetrable human. The squid doesn't appear to be indestructible.
posted by lightweight at 2:17 AM on April 3, 2003

Fantastic! It's just unbelievable what swims around down there.

Why, I can remember just a year or two ago when an entirely new and different species of deep-sea squid was discovered, and I was just as amazed then as I am now.
posted by hama7 at 2:30 AM on April 3, 2003

Amazing. Never again will I go swimming after I've had baby squid for lunch, that's for sure.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:39 AM on April 3, 2003

Colossal squid, or Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni
, is an extremely aggressive squid that chases large prey such as Patagonian toothfish. It has razor-sharp hooks on the inside of its tentacles that can swivel, so when it catches something it twists and shreds it to pieces. '

'It also uses two large, sharp beaks to eat, and has fins to push it quickly through the ocean. '

'Sperm whales eat the species, but a whale washed up on the Mahia Peninsula recently showed evidence of gouges and cuts from a battle with a squid. '

posted by plep at 3:40 AM on April 3, 2003

There should be a joke here about calamares...although I'm feeling a bit lazy so having trouble coming up with it....could someone intelligent insert a joke about squid rings in this thread?

posted by mattr at 3:47 AM on April 3, 2003


Collossal squid are cool. I mean, dude! Razor Sharp Swivelling claw-tentacles!!!! This is cool in a way not known since the glory days of Voltron.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:55 AM on April 3, 2003

Squids in, then...
posted by nthdegx at 4:07 AM on April 3, 2003

I remember Errol Morris doing an episode of his First Person tv series about this guy who was a giant squid hunter. I can't remember his name but he's probably one of the scientists listed on plep's third link. Anyways, he said that they found a dead giant squid on the beach once, studied it, then took it home, cooked it, and ate it. He was hardcore about giant squid hunting.

The colossal squid hunter may have caught a live colossal squid, but it's only a juvenile. And he didn't eat it.

Hopefully, the Discovery channel with have a special on this, since they are this guy's sponsor.
posted by dogwalker at 5:03 AM on April 3, 2003


Have you heard about the giant jellyfish? Giant, as in...really, really, really big. Here's a pic, although it looks beautiful instead of scary. I think this jellyfish could take on that squid. Especially since the squid is dead, but you know what I mean ;)

I'm seeing a really cool B movie here - something black and white, Japanese, destined for cult status, bad lipsynching and tinny music. Calamaro Meets MechaGel, maybe. Between mjjj's spiders and plep's giant, foreboding marine life that wants to kill me, I plan to go nowhere near sand or water anytime soon.
posted by iconomy at 5:17 AM on April 3, 2003

That jellyfish is simply amazing. :)
posted by plep at 5:19 AM on April 3, 2003

Forget the colossal squid, where's my Giant Octopus?
posted by witchstone at 6:56 AM on April 3, 2003

"Yes, I'm afraid it is true. The radiation has somehow... *changed* the jellyfish. It is hovering towards Neo-Tokyo even as we speak. I implore you, sir, to deploy the armed forces immediately."
posted by kaibutsu at 7:02 AM on April 3, 2003

What about the theory of deep-sea squid growing in size due to changing ocean temperatures? Now *that's* freaky.

God knows what lurks down there that we haven't seen yet. 5 of 6 of these Squid ever seen before were pieces found inside Sperm Whale bodies. This is the 2nd time ever in history one has been near the surface to have gotten netted. They were thought to live >10k ft...

posted by shadow45 at 7:33 AM on April 3, 2003

So, did they kill this rare giant squid? Or did it wash up somewhere?
posted by aacheson at 8:13 AM on April 3, 2003

Plep's got the giant squid lore covered, but I have also read that colossal squid and merely giant squid are believed to be coming closer to the surface because of 1) Global Warming-driven changes in Ocean Circulation and 2) New ecological/predatory niches for the squid which have opened up as a result of massive overfishing.
posted by troutfishing at 8:35 AM on April 3, 2003

I think troutfishing may have a point... go to a news site like and do a search for 'squid'. The numbers of giant squid washed up or otherwise found seems to have dramatically increased over the last few years. 'Admittedly this is pretty incomplete and unscientific. But it seems quite remarkable nonetheless. Maybe it's to do with climate change, maybe it's to do with the food chain, maybe it's something else entirely, but maybe something's going on down there...
posted by plep at 9:01 AM on April 3, 2003

I, for one, welcome our new giant squid overlords.
posted by cinderful at 9:08 AM on April 3, 2003

On the question of how the squid died :- according to Reuters, 'The squid was eating Patagonian Toothfish, which grow to two meters in length, when it was caught. It was dead when it was hawled into the trawler and the remains are now in the New Zealand national museum.'. Apparently it was caught by fishermen in their net, and was dead on arrival, so to speak.
posted by plep at 9:11 AM on April 3, 2003

Okay, sorry, but (*tee hee, snicker*), I can't think about octopus without thinking about what Effie serves Ernie for dinner, seemlingly every night! (Use the drop-down menu on this site to go to Wednesday, February 26, 2003 and you'll see what I see when I think octopus!)
posted by Lynsey at 10:57 AM on April 3, 2003

I am at once fascinated and stuff, great thread!
posted by madamjujujive at 8:26 PM on April 3, 2003

Am I the only one to make the "colossal squid/Antarctic/H.P Lovecraft/At the Mountains of Madness" connection?

Maybe H.P. Lovecraft had something there, with his Cthulhu mythos. :)
posted by crankydoodle at 2:45 PM on April 4, 2003

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