Giants of the deep
A rare and dangerous colossal squid, its tentacles bristling with suckers and curved hooks for snagging prey, has been captured in the Ross Sea in Antarctica.
Fishermen captured it as the squid was attacking their catch while they were hauling it in. This specimen was only a juvenile, with a body 2.5 m (8 ft) long, and a total length (i.e. including tentacles) of 6 m (19.5 ft). It is possible that adult specimens would reach body lengths of 4 m (13 ft), and total lengths of 12 m (40 ft).
‘This is a solid hunk of killing animal’, said a New Zealand researcher. ‘I would not want to be in the water with even a baby one.’
What sets the colossal squid apart from the giant squid (and other squids) are its tentacles, which have rotating barbs that can inflict serious damage, judging by the condition of a sperm whale washed up on a New Zealand beach with colossal squid beaks in its stomach. The whale was scarred with long, deep lacerations, presumably from fighting with colossal squid.
An article in New Scientist commented, ‘Once the stuff of maritime myth, these animals are now firmly part of mainstream science.’
Ancient sailors’ accounts of giant tentacled sea monsters battling whales seem to be now showing up a basis in fact. Could it be that similar tales of giant sea monsters are a legacy of actual encounters with terrifying deep-sea creatures (reminiscent of Job 41)?
- New Scientist, 12 April 2003, p. 18; 2 August 2003, pp. 24–29.
- Discovery Channel News, dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20030331/squid.html, 27 August 2003.