The dimensions of the creature are quite staggering. Its tentacles measure 16ft (5m), its mantle is 6.5ft (2m) long, and its eye alone was 7.5in (19cm) in diameter.
The monster was found by walkers, who quickly reported it to wildlife experts. Members of the Kaikoura Marine Center and Aquarium retrieved the animal and put it in a freezer with a glass wall, for the public to view.
Well preserved specimens like this have been hard to find, because their carcasses are swiftly devoured by birds.
The Independent quotes a spokesperson for the center, who said:
“Before the birds got to it, we got help to move it to the aquarium on display until we can do more with it.”
Specimens from the corpse have been sent to Auckland and Otago universities for further study.
ABC News quoted Megan Lewis, a marine biologist and the aquarium’s owner, who told the local newspaper, the Marlborough Express, that the squid was a mature female. “They tend to grow very fast and live not very long,” she said.
“There’s no indication of how it died,” Lewis told the paper. “The stomach was full so it wasn’t hungry.”
However, scratches and scars on the body of the animal look like squid beak marks, and suggest that it had been in a battle with another squid, probably a male, which are much bigger.
In fact, this type of giant squid is still something of an enigma. Little is known about its behavior. They live in the far depths of the oceans, and it was only in 2004 that one was filmed alive in the sea for the first time.
Until then, most of the evidence for their existence were marks they inflicted on dead whales, captured by fishermen.
TechTimes says that;
“During the Age of Whaling, sperm whales were occasionally seen bearing large battle scars, evidence they had tangled with a mighty creature beneath the ocean surface.”
Fights between whales and giant squids seem to be a regular occurrence, and undigested parts of squids have also been found in the stomachs of whales.
Discovery News says that, in fact, these aren’t the biggest of deep sea squids, and one measuring a mind-boggling 65ft has also been found.
The size of these squids, obviously conjures up images from ancient mariners’ tales of sea monsters, called Krakens, which sailors fought with as they wrapped their giant tentacles around sailing ships and pulled them down under the waves.
Discovery quotes from a book by marine biologist Richard Ellis called “The Search for the Giant Squid,” which notes that;
“There is probably no apparition more terrifying than a gigantic, saucer-eyed creature of the depths… Even the man-eating shark pales by comparison to such a horror… An animal that can reach a length of 60 feet is already intimidating, and if it happens to have eight squirmy arms, two feeding tentacles, gigantic unblinking eyes, and a gnashing beak, it becomes the stuff of nightmares.”
Experts say there is no evidence that giant squids are a threat to humans, and that the ancient tales are just myths.
But, normal sized squids can be very aggressive. The video below shows an attack by a group of squids on a diver in the sea off Mexico. Ordinary size squids are even known to leap out of the water to attack prey.
So, who knows? The deck of the Mayflower, which brought the first English settlers to America, probably only stood 20 ft out of the water, and its maximum width was 25 ft. Could a 22 ft squid like this one, or better still a 65 footer have got its tentacles around a sailing ship? Perhaps, there’s something to those old sailors’ tales after all.