A giant squid washed up on a South Island, New Zealand, beach this week. Marine biologists confirmed the squid was dead. However, it is described as “massive,” with tentacles reaching 16 feet in length.
As reported by Time, the mature female’s mantle is over 6 feet long and its eyes are more than seven inches in diameter. The longest of the tentacles is nearly 16 feet long.
— PerthNow (@perthnow) May 15, 2015
Biologists transported the giant squid to The Kaikoura Marine Centre and Aquarium, where it is currently being displayed. Although the enclosure is climate controlled to preserve the tissue, glass panels will allow guests to see the magnificent creature.
A Kaikoura Marine Centre spokesperson confirmed tissue samples will be sent to New Zealand’s Auckland and Otago universities for further testing.
Marine biologist Megan Lewis said it is unclear what killed the giant squid. However, there were no signs of trauma and “the stomach was full so it wasn’t hungry.”
As the squid was determined to be mature, it may have simply died of old age.
— Aaron Sanchez (@AaronMSanchez) May 15, 2015
Giant squids, like other mollusks, are generally short-lived and rarely survive longer than five years. However, they grow very quickly and can exceed 30 feet in length.
Prior to the 1800s, the giant squid was assumed to be a dangerous, and likely mythological, beast. Although the magnificent creatures remain elusive, marine biologists have confirmed they are in fact real. Thankfully, they do not pose any risk to humans.
As reported by Degreed, the first giant squid specimen was collected in the late 1800s. However, it took another 114 years to capture a live giant squid on film.
In 2007, a group of fisherman caught a live giant squid in the Ross Sea. The mature female, which weighed more than 1,000 pounds and measured more than 33 feet in length, remains the largest known squid ever found.
In 2013, another giant squid was found near the shore of the Kaikoura coast. The mollusk was later brought ashore for an autopsy, which was performed by Kaikoura Marine Centre and Aquarium marine biologist Megan Bosch.
The autopsy was remarkable, as it was broadcast live. During the program, Bosch suggested the giant squid was killed by another, much larger, squid.
As reported by Marlborough Express, New Zealand’s most recent giant squid was discovered by Bruce Bennett — who was walking his dog on the beach.
[Image via ABC News]