Saturday, February 24, 2007

One Big Squid

By Princessa

In the cold, dark waters of the Antarctic lurks a creature with eight arms, two super long tentacles and eyes as big as dinner plates. Sound like something out of a science fiction movie? Think again. This sea monster is the real deal. A Colossal Catch!

On February 21, New Zealand fishermen landed a colossal squid the length of a school bus. They had been fishing with long lines for Chilean sea bass in the waters off the coast of New Zealand when they snared the rare squid. With two hours of backbreaking work, the crew maneuvered the creature into a cargo net and hauled it aboard their ship.

Scientists estimate that the animal weighs about a half-ton and is about 40 feet long. That would make this colossal squid the biggest on record. One expert said that if the squid were cut into calamari rings, a food made from squid, they would be the size of tractor tires!
"I can assure you that this is going to draw phenomenal interest," said squid expert Steve O'Shea. "It is truly amazing." A Mysterious Sea Creature".

Scientists call it Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni. First identified in 1925 after two tentacles were found in a sperm whale's stomach, the colossal squid has long been a mystery. The animals are not easy to observe because they can descend to ocean depths of 6,500 feet. What scientists do know from studying the bodies of a half dozen recovered colossal squids is that they are fierce hunters. Razor-sharp, swiveling hooks line their tentacles to attack fish and other prey and to fight off predators. A Mammoth Study.

The recently discovered colossal squid has been frozen to preserve it for scientific study. It will be transported to New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa, in the capital city of Wellington. Experts believe it to be the first adult male ever caught intact. Scientists hope to learn more about the colossal squid's diet, behavior and reproductive patterns.

"(Scientists) will be very interested in this amazing creature," said New Zealand Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton. "It adds immeasurably to our understanding of the marine environment."

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