Colossal Squid caught early February 2007 in the Ross Sea, Antarctica.
Source: Ministry of Fisheries, New Zealand
New Zealand scientists have begun examining the largest squid ever found.
The largest single invertebrate animal ever found, the Colossal Squid weighed 495kg - almost twice the weight of the largest squid ever captured before.
Captured by long-line fishermen in Antarctic seas in early February 2007, it was frozen in a huge block of ice at the time, but is now being thawed and examined in Wellington, NZ.
The Colossal Squid’s existence has been known for more than 80 years, but nobody realised they got quite this big - the largest previous specimen weighed around 300kg.
Colossal Squids (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) are not the same as Giant Squids, being members of different families. Shorter and more squat, overall they are the fattest squid, while Giant Squid are the longest.
Crimson red all over, the Colossal Squids’ head contains two huge eyes (the largest on the planet), a mouth armed with a sharp slicing beak and a tongue covered in sharp teeth. A ring of eight muscular arms surround the mouth, each lined with sharp-toothed suckers and hooks. Two longer feeding tentacles are armed with pads at the tips bearing numerous swivelling hooks, each hook up to 30mm long.
Little is known of their wild behaviour. Collected at depths of more than 2 km, they occur throughout the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, with juveniles also found further north in slightly warmer waters. They probably use their sharp hooks to seize fish and squid, such as the Patagonian Toothfish that the fishermen were targeting in the Ross Sea.
Museum Victoria’s marine invertebrate collection includes juvenile Colossal Squids and large beaks of adults collected from the stomachs of Sperm Whales. One of our Giant Squid specimens is also on public display in our Marine Life exhibition at Melbourne Museum.