A 14-foot-long giant squid that washed up on the shores of Wellington, New Zealand, has gone viral since it was spotted over the weekend by a trio of brothers who were heading out for a diving trip.
According to The Sun, Daniel, Jack, and Matthew Aplin were on a trip to Wellington’s south coast when they saw a beached squid that immediately stood out for being larger than any other squid or shark they had encountered during previous diving trips. The brothers then contacted New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, which eventually confirmed that they had “almost certainly” spotted a giant squid, a creature that was measured at almost 14 feet, or 4.2 meters in length.
Although there have been claims that the animals could reach lengths of up to 66 feet, there has been no evidence on scientific literature describing giant squids of that size. According to BGR, giant squids are known to reach maximum lengths of 40 feet, which makes the Aplin brothers’ find small by comparison, but the animal’s extremely reclusive tendencies still make the sighting quite notable. The publication added that there is an even larger yet harder to spot species, the colossal squid, which has been known to measure up to 46 feet in length.
Primarily a deep-sea species, giant squids prey on fish and other squid species, as noted by The Sun. They use two tentacles to gather their food, then use serrated sucker rings to hold on to their prey and make sure it doesn’t slip. These smaller creatures are then shredded before the giant squid consumes them. Generally, giant squids are known to hunt by themselves, unlike other sea creatures that hunt in packs.
On the other hand, giant squids are usually preyed upon by sperm whales, with younger and smaller squids of the species occasionally hunted by deep-sea sharks.
The Sun wrote that the Aplin brothers’ discovery makes it the second largest squid sighting in New Zealand, ranking behind a 17-foot-long colossal squid which is preserved at the Te Papa national museum. According to the museum’s website, this exhibit is currently closed, but is scheduled to reopen sometime in 2019.
The New Zealand giant squid sighting is also noteworthy in light of a previous sighting in 2017, where a man claimed to have spotted a 49-foot-long giant squid washed up on Seram Island in Indonesia, according to the Inquisitr. While this sighting had similarly gone viral, subsequent reports confirmed that the animal was actually a beached whale.