The giant squid is an animal about which there are many more legends than facts.
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Because giant squid (Architeuthis dux) live thousands of feet deep in the sea they are extremely difficult to study, so they are still a great mystery to us. Usually if a giant squid is found near the surface it is already dead. In fact, just last week, fishermen in Australia accidentally caught a dead giant squid – a rare find that you can see in this video:
Giant squid mostly eat fish and smaller squid, and are preyed upon by sperm whales. The first images of a live giant squid were just captured in 2004, and the first video was taken in 2006, by visiting sperm whale feeding grounds, but most of what we now know about them has come from carcasses that have washed up.
Sailors used to think that they were sea monsters. It’s not hard to see why. The giant squid was depicted as terrifying in literature such as Moby Dick and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. It also inspired the legend of the sea monster called the Kraken.
Image via Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain.
Like all squid, the giant squid has a mantle, with eight arms, and two tentacles. The tentacles are extremely long and have a club at the end, while the shorter arms have suckers all along their length. The suckers are armed with sharp saws. In the center of the arms and tentacles is a beak, which looks like a parrot’s beak.
The giant squid can reach up to 10 meters (33 feet) long – or maybe more! There have been reports of 60 foot(100m)-long squid, but these haven’t been confirmed by scientists – so that may just be one of those legends. Along with its cousin, the colossal squid, the giant squid is the largest invertebrate in the world. (The giant squid is probably the longest in length, but the colossal squid is thicker so it has more mass.) These two animals also have larger eyes than any other animal in the world – more than 1 foot (30cm) across! This may help them to see in the darkness of the deep sea.
The scientific journey to understand the mysterious giant squid has only just begun!