Scientists Unexpectedly Haul in 13-foot Giant Squid

Photo: Brit Finucci, NIWA

Researchers at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd (NIWA) were at sea surveying one of New Zealand’s commercial fish species when they unexpectedly hauled in a 13-foot giant squid.

NIWA researchers say they generally only catch the species once in a decade, so this was quite a rare find. The team reported that the deceased squid weighed approximately 250 pounds, which is actually somewhat small considering some individuals exceed 600 pounds.
The eye of the giant squid. Photo: Brit Finucci, NIWA

After hoisting the animal onto a tarp — a feat that took six team members — researchers got to work performing a full necropsy of the specimen. The team gathered over 100 pounds of samples, including valuable portions of the eyes, head, stomach, and reproductive organs for later analysis.

The species, Architeuthis dux, is a deep-sea squid that can grow to nearly 40 feet in length. They’re found in every one of the world’s oceans, but are extremely rare in tropical and polar latitudes. New Zealand is said to be a hot-spot for the creatures; NIWA fisheries scientist Darren Stevens noted that the country is “kind of the giant squid capital of the world,” so it’s not exactly out of the ordinary. “Anywhere else a giant squid is caught in a net would be a massive deal, but there’s been a few caught off New Zealand.”
Darren Stevens measures the giant squid. Photo: Brit Finucci, NIWA

Also among the catch were several bioluminescent sharks, though the scientists expected to see a number of those. What was exciting about these guys, however, is that bioluminescence expert Jérôme Mallefet] was able to photograph a number of them as they produced light — a first in New Zealand waters. Mallefet captured photographs of a southern lantern shark, lucifer dogfish, and a seal shark.

Sign us up for the next expedition!

Another giant squid was recently seen, a juvenile giant squid estimated to be at least 12 feet tall in the Gulf of Mexico. It was spotted via a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). It was only the second time a giant squid was caught on camera in the history of ocean exploration.

Watch the video below, and learn more about the sighting here.