The mysterious giant squid
Tales abound around the world of the existence of awesome creatures and events. For instance, the hundreds of stories of a global Flood, with amazing parallels to the original in Genesis, give strong support to the truth of the Bible’s real history of the universe. It is also easy to see the widespread stories of dragons and huge sea serpents as having a basis in fact, in the light of reconstructions of certain dinosaurs and marine monsters such as the Kronosaurus, now found only as fossils.
But such connections make little sense to someone viewing the evidence through the ‘interpretive lenses’ of our present culture. They would insist that such creatures died out millions of years before the first person appeared, a position favoured even by many who would claim to be opposed to evolution.
It has therefore always been convenient for such long-agers to dismiss all such accounts as purely fanciful. The tales about the mysterious giant squid have a lesson to offer, namely that a persistently recurring story, despite being opposed to ‘common experience’, turns out to have a factual basis.
For centuries, stories have abounded about squids of monstrous proportions.
Herman Melville, in his famous 1851 novel, Moby Dick, describes a duel to the death between a sperm whale and a giant squid. Lord Alfred Tennyson tells of a marine monster with ‘giant arms’ in his 19th century poem The Kraken,and the naturalist in Jules Verne’s classic tale 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1873), expresses disgust at the sight of an ‘immense cuttlefish’ swimming near the ship.
It’s now known that not only did such tentacled giants exist in the days when the above authors lived, they continue to exist today. Despite the fact that no modern scientist has seen a live giant squid, there is absolutely no doubt that they still live—many hundreds, maybe even thousands, of metres below the surface of the sea.
Squid researcher Clive Roper finds these giants of the sea, like the specimen in the background, worth much further investigation.
Update: Since this photo was taken, other giant squid have been captured. See the article Giants of the Deep, including the ‘update’ box.
We know this because dead giant squids have washed up on beaches, been caught by fishermen or found in the stomachs of sperm whales.1 It is reasonable to assume that the giant squid, purported to be up to 18 metres (60 feet) in length and weighing up to 900 kg (nearly a tonne), lives near the deep ocean floor. This would explain why such a huge creature, with long tentacles covered in sharp suckers, and eyes the size of soccer balls, is able to remain hidden in this age of advanced technology. Since sperm whales feed at depths of up to 2,000 metres (6,600 feet), they would have no difficulty including giant squids in their diet.
The race is now on among scientists to find a live giant squid in the mysterious, dark, and relatively uncharted world of the deep sea. American Clive Roper is among them. He has already dedicated four years of his life to searching for this, the ‘largest invertebrate ever to have lived on Earth’, and is not yet ready to give up, despite being unsuccessful thus far.2 He believes the most likely place to find a giant squid is the Kaikoura Canyon, off New Zealand’s South Island, a favoured feeding ground for sperm whales.
The giant squid is equipped with two grasping arms and eight tentacles, each containing several suckers with edges featuring jagged ‘teeth’ to help it grip prey. Sailors and fishermen tell of catching whales covered in welts that were very probably made by these suckers.
Photo Gary Bell, Ocean Wild Images
Squids range in size from the small common variety shown here, up to giants many metres long.
Despite the giant squid’s formidable physical characteristics, Roper doubts that these creatures would have attacked boats, like the ‘monsters’ of literary legend. Given that only dead giant squids are found at the surface, he says it’s unlikely live specimens would venture beyond their natural habitat in the ocean depths.2 This may be so, but a great deal remains unknown about the giant squid.
We do know that it is a cephalopod which, like its smaller squid relatives, has amazing design features enabling it to use jet propulsion to travel underwater. A squid draws water into its body, then forces a narrow jet of water back out through a funnel, propelling the animal in the opposite direction, sometimes at incredible speeds.3
Unlike the octopus, which lives on the ocean floor, the giant squid is thought to live between the surface and the bottom, making its buoyancy abilities critical. Evidence to date indicates that the giant squid (named Architeuthis—‘chief squid’—by the ancient Greeks) concentrates ammonium ions in its muscle tissue as part of the mechanisms it uses to control buoyancy.4 This feature was discovered through the ‘bitter’ taste of giant squid’s flesh—so, even though the creature could provide calamari rings the size of truck tires, it’s never going to be a seafood delicacy.4 Ammonium chloride [i.e. in the concentration used by the squid--Ed.] is lighter than seawater, which is apparently why dead giant squids rise to the surface.
If not for the dead specimens found in the bellies of whales and in fishermen’s nets, modern scientists would not believe that this creature, the subject of legend, existed. There may well be other fascinating giant creatures, as yet unknown to modern scientific description, in the vast, unexplored ocean depths—especially if, unlike Architeuthis, they were neither a favourite food of deep-diving whales, nor constructed so as to conveniently float to the top when dead.
If there are such, they might even turn out to be of huge marine reptiles known to modern science only from their fossils. ‘Giant’ creatures tend to be associated in the public mind with some long-lost evolutionary ‘age’, but the existence of Architeuthis in today’s world speaks otherwise. Squids, giant or otherwise, are all descended from the cephalopods created on day 5 of Creation Week (Genesis 1:10-23).
References and notes
- Tale Of Two Monsters: Giant Squid,
, May 15, 2000. Return to text.
- New Scientist, 166(2239):40, May 20, 2000. Return to text.
- For an article on jet propulsion in cephalopods, see Who invented jet propulsion? Creation 17(4):26, 1995. Return to text.
- Ref 2, p. 41. Return to text.
Interesting article from the BBC, detailing a 'colossal squid', as distinct from a 'giant squid' [Link removed as per feedback rules]
One chapter of my book Dragons of the Deep: Ocean Monsters Past and Present deals with this creature, Mesonychoteuthis. Here are a couple of paragraphs:
"The ones recovered so far ... were not yet fully-grown. But it is clear from studying them (and the undigested parts, such as beaks, found inside sperm whales) that an adult Mesonychoteuthis is a formidable beast. It can grow to more than twice as long as a London bus, much longer than the longest sperm whale.
"Its eyes, the largest in any living animal, are the size of dinner plates. It has eight arms and two tentacles. The middle of each arm has up to 25 teeth-like hooks (in addition to the usual suckers to ensure fish do not escape). Each tentacle also has on its ‘clubs’ 8-18 special hooks. These have razor-sharp edges and can rotate 360 degrees, like a circular saw. Contemplating this lethal array, one scientist said, 'This animal … not only is colossal in size but is going to be a phenomenal predator and something you are not going to want to meet in the water.'"
I saw something I think on Animal Planet and another site that scientists in a bathosphere actually took a picture of a giant squid.
Very cool article! Although, you might want to know that not too long ago, scientists caught the immense animal on tape. It's quite beautiful, in a dangerous sort of way. Another of God's incredible creations! :D
It's rather amazing that modern man can't find these enormous creatures of the sea which were described by so many writers of long ago. They must have become wary of destructive man and how their waters have become so polluted.
In Genesis 1:21, Moses tells that "...Elohim created the great sea-monsters..." and verse 23 "...a fifth day." But don't stop reading; he gives a recap of the "day" of Creation in Genesis 2:4, where he tells of "the day" the "generations" were Created. In reading of the day in which our Creator formed the heavens and the earth. It delights me to think of the Awesome Great Spirit, and the rest of the Elohim, taking pleasure in the "generations" of activity involved in Creation. The Day of Rest came after man was created.
It seems that only AFTER man was formed from the dust of the earth and breath of life breathed into him by the Supreme Being who made him living soul with "free will" that things began to change in the Third Heaven.
The most brilliant and beautiful of all the spirit beings, Lucifer, became jealous of this last of the creations: HUMANS! They were given too much! So he decided to do something about it.
Who knows how long Adam & Eve had enjoyed the Garden of Eden is not clear, but Adam told her their Creator had given them freedom in the Garden EXCEPT for the ONE tree in the center of the garden that they weren't supposed to touch.
Lucifer waited patiently. Then when he saw Eve walking alone in the Garden, he had his chance! He changed form and became a smooth talking, beguiling snake and was able to convince her there would be no harm in just tasting the fruit of that beautiful tree!
Not only the sea-monsters environment but all the rest of Creation has been contaminated by that one small act of disobedience!
I watched a Discovery program this week where the scientists went to 1500m+/- in a deep diving sub with a glass bubble, and a robotic arm with bait on it. A large squid came and ate about half the bait which appeared to be a large fish about a meter long. It was obvious that they were overjoyed to have seen, and videotaped proof of the giant squid.
We only see with our eyes, and if we haven't seen it, it doesn't exist.
I believe that the old maps and drawings that show colossal squid, and dragons, and dinosaur type creatures were drawn from eye witness, and not from imagination. There is so much that we haven't explored, or seen (the bottom of the ocean), and so who knows what we haven't discovered yet.
Great article. It looks like they've now caught one on film as well, see Discovery channel's 'first video of a giant squid' [web link removed as per feedback rules].
A very interesting article; but whence cometh the statement, "Ammonium chloride is lighter than seawater, which is apparently why dead giant squids rise to the surface." Ammonium chloride is a solid salt with a density 1.53 times that of pure water. Even at great depths the density of sea water can only reach about 1.05 times that of pure water. Since NH4Cl is highly soluble in water, in the giant squid it is obviously in solution; the density of which solution will depend on all the materials dissolved in it. On the other hand, if NH3 dissociates from the solution at death and forms vapour bubbles in the tissue it could make sense that the carcass would rise.
Thanks, we have added an editorial note to clarify that the solution of Ammonium Chloride used by the squid is less dense than sea water. That seems to be the mechanism according to the references that appear on a cursory internet search. Others may have additional info.
Just this last week I read a report of a 9 foot great white shark that had been 'eaten' by some unknown creature back in 2011. Secular scientists are cautious at best in saying it was eaten by some huge sea monster.
Your article here on giant squid does give credence to there being other giant animals in the depth of the oceans; some big enough to kill a great white!