Public dissection of giant squid (video)
Video of the first ever public dissection by Museum scientists of a giant squid at Melbourne Museum on Thursday 17th July 2008. Using video cameras and audio links, the dissection process is explained and the current knowledge of the biology of these almost mythological creatures is discussed.
Educational Value Statement
For the first time ever the public was able to watch the dissection by Museum Victoria scientists of a giant squid recently caught near Portland, Victoria. Melbourne Museum. The dissection was videoed and streamed live over the internet on Thursday 17 July 2008.
The giant squid weighed around 245 kg, making it the largest giant squid that Australian researchers have encountered and just 30 kg lighter than the largest giant squid ever found. It is estimated that, intact, the animal would have been over 12 m long, this length including the long thin pair of feeding tentacles used by the squid to catch its prey.
Giant Squid live in the cold dark deep sea in all oceans of the world and can grow to 15 metres long. They are rarely encountered and have never been observed in their natural habitat. As such, we know very little about them.
The squid was accidentally caught in a fishing trawl off western Victoria in June this year. Captured at a depth of 550 metres by the crew of the “Zeehaan”, it was donated to Museum Victoria by Toberfish of Portland.
The flesh of Giant Squid is not edible; it is full of pockets of ammonia. Ammonia is lighter than seawater. The pouches of ammonia fluid cancel out the weight of the flesh and allow Giant Squid to “hang” in the water without using any energy. Giant Squid are therefore not targeted by fishing trawlers, but sadly they are occasionally caught in the nets.
Museum Victoria has several specimens and they were all captured by commercial fishermen in trawls of depths between 500 and 800 metres in Bass Strait. Visitors to Melbourne Museum can view a 10-metre long Giant Squid in the exhibition Marine Life: Exploring our Seas.
Contributor: Norman, Mark