Huge Squid Caught in Antarctic Waters
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|Fri, 04-04-2003 - 2:02pm|
Thursday, April 3, 2003 Â· Last updated 3:00 a.m. PT
By RAY LILLEY
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- Fishermen working in Antarctic waters have made an extremely rare catch - a colossal squid with eyes as big as dinner plates and razor-sharp hooks on its tentacles, a marine researcher said Thursday.
The 330-pound, 16-foot-long specimen was caught in the Ross Sea, said Steve O'Shea, a research fellow with the Auckland University of Technology. He said the squid was a young female; adults are much bigger.
Going by the scientific name Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, the animal is unrelated to the smaller and more common giant squid, O'Shea said.
"This animal is formidable," he told New Zealand's National Radio.
While the giant squid eats "quite small prey," the colossal squid eats large prey like the Patagonian toothfish, which can grow more than six feet long.
Fully grown, the colossal squid would be "larger than any giant squid I have seen, and I've seen 105 of them," O'Shea said.
Only one other colossal squid has ever been caught before. Scientists knew of their existence because their beaks have been found in the stomachs of sperm whales.
"All we know is that it can move through the water ... to a depth of 2,000 meters (6,561 feet) and it is an extremely active and extremely aggressive killer," O'Shea said.
It differs from the giant squid "by having enormous hooks arming the tentacles and the arms," he said.
The creature makes up three-quarters of the diet of large sperm whales, which suggests there are large numbers of them in Antarctic waters, O'Shea said. He said the squid was caught near the surface of the ocean.