Evgeny Romanov, one of the authors of A giant squid (Architeuthis dux) off Reunion Island, western Indian Ocean: the greatest giant ever?‘ recently published in the Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, provides us further insight into this research. The full paper is freely available to download until 31st January 2018.

The giant squid Architeuthis dux is an enigmatic species in the World Oceans. It is rarely caught in fishing gears or observed alive but mostly known from stranding events, predator stomachs or encounters with dead specimens floating at the surface of the ocean.

Myths are surrounding this species describing furious attacks on boats by several ten meter long monsters. The facts show that reality is much more trivial. The length of a giant squid body (mostly reported as length of its mantle) lies within the range of 2m – 3m however, the total length with its elastic tentacles may reach about 17m. However, such ‘giants’ are rarely observed.

Most records represent specimens less than one meter in mantle length. We had a chance to encounter a real giant of its kind. It was found dead at the ocean surface a few miles off Reunion Island coast in the southwest Indian Ocean by sport fishermen who after numerous failed attempts, partially pulled the specimen on-board. Few but important parts of the dead animal were collected; its arms and head, including the beak. The beak was the most important part that allowed us to identify the species and to reconstruct the whole animal size. Its mantle length was estimated to range between 2.2m – 3.1m and the total length with tentacles ranged between 11m and 15.7m.

Giant squid of such size were never discovered in the Indian Ocean before and only few squids of such size were reported worldwide!

Photo credit: Thibaut Thellier
Photo credit: Thibaut Thellier
Photo credit: Thibaut Thellier
Photo credit: Thibaut Thellier

The death of the squid was apparently caused by a predator attack; the whole tail of the specimen was severed by a predator such as sperm whale known to be the principal predator of giant squids. But this is not the whole story. As soon as the paper appeared in FirstView of the Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, we have been contacted by several witnesses stating that giant squid were found recently in the Seychelles and were also seen in the Maldives.

If such hints are true it makes the giant squid a truly global species. We will continue our efforts to searching the facts on this cephalopod.

The mysteries of the deep still have to be learned.

Access the full paper for free until 31st January 2018.

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