Thursday, February 22, 2007

World's Record Squid Caught!

For all you giant squid fans out there (original article here):

A New Zealand fishing boat has landed what is believed to be a world record squid weighing an estimated 450 kilograms (990 pounds).

The gigantic sea creature is about 10 metres (33 feet) long and about 150 kilograms heavier than the next biggest specimen ever found.

The fishing vessel San Aspiring was long lining in the Ross Sea near Antarctica, and the squid was dining on a hooked toothfish when it was hauled from the deep.

"He just appeared as a great, big, dark shape coming out of the depths. He was wrapped around a 30-kilogram toothfish and he was just munching away on it," the ship's captain, John Bennett, told AFP Thursday.

"We stopped hauling the line and got it alongside the ship, and we decided it was really in too poor a condition to release, so we decided we would get a cargo net around it and lift it aboard."

Bennett said the squid probably latched onto the toothfish at a depth of 1,800 metres.

He said it was "about the size of a small car", but although it had been estimated at 450kg Bennett believed that would be at the high end.

New Zealand Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton, who announced the catch, said the colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) had been frozen and would be preserved for scientific study.

"It is likely that it is the first intact adult male colossal squid to ever be successfully landed.

"The scientific community will be very interested in this amazing creature," Anderton said, describing the colossal squid as "as one of the most mysterious creatures in the deep ocean."

Colossal squid are found in Antarctic waters and are not related to the giant squid (Architeuthis species). Giant squid also grow up to 12 me
tres, but are not as heavy.

There is something intrinsically cool about really big invertebrates, and this is just about the biggest with a brain (there are larger jellyfish). Colossal squid are thought to be both larger and far more aggressive than the legendary giant squid. Interestingly, this specimen has been caught just in time for Lent! Calamari, anyone?