Discover the Mysterious Giant Squid

10 February, 2020
The giant squid is one of the largest creatures on our planet. But despite their huge size, they can be surprisingly difficult to find...

The giant squid is one of the most mysterious and curious animals on our planet. As a result, they have been the subject of many myths and legends throughout history. Today, we want to tell you a little more about them and some of their most notable characteristics.

The giant squid

The Architeuthis dux, better known as the giant squid, is a cephalopod of the Teuthida order. They have swum the depths of Earth’s seas for a very long time, and have been a source of terror for sailors for thousands of years.

Because these elusive creatures typically live in the deepest parts of the oceans, we still know very little about them. In fact, everything we know is the result of studies carried out on bodies that have washed up on coastlines, and the ingenuity of modern scientists.

Physiology

The most notable characteristic of these curious animals is their enormous size. Males often measure over 30 ft in length, while females can measure around 45 ft. That said, squid as long as 60 – 65 ft have been recorded in the past. Their 8 arms make up most of their length, and are attached to the base of their torso.

  • Their eyes are the size of basketballs, and are highly sensitive to changes in light intensity. Curiously, a squid’s eye has the same structure as that of a human (pupil, retina and iris), despite developing in a completely different environment. However, it’s believed that the eyes of the colossal squid are even bigger.
  • Each tentacle has two parallel rows of suckers which they use for catching their food. These suckers are lined with rows of “teeth”, which allow them to keep a firm hold on their prey.
  • The giant squid’s head holds the key to determining its age. The bones of the ear, known as statoliths, grow in rings, like the trunk of a tree. Their life expectancy varies from 5 to 15 years.

As we mentioned earlier, everything we know about them has come from the bodies of squid devoured by sperm whales (their only known natural predator) and bodies that have washed up on beaches. A huge effort is currently being made to study these animals in both their natural habitat, and in captivity.

Diet and reproduction

Despite being one of the largest animals on the planet, giant squid are relatively light in comparison to species such as the blue whale and the colossal squid. On average, males can weigh between 330 and 375 lbs, while females weigh 550 lbs +.

According to research, they mainly live on a diet of fish and shrimp, which flourish in the deepest parts of the ocean, at a depth of between 800 and 10000 ft. When food is scarce, they will resort to eating smaller species of squid, or even members of their own species.

Cephalopods.

When it comes to reproduction, we know very little about how these animals breed. Some argue that they mate by butting heads, but more recent studies have revealed that the males have a specially adapted reproductive tentacle that they insert into the female. After mating, the males leave the females and die in the open sea.

We also have no idea what these animals look like at birth, besides what we know from observing other species of squid. Some researchers argue that the females dive to the ocean floor before depositing their eggs in a mound, and leaving them to drift with the current.

Population and behavior

The giant squid isn’t a threat to humans. To date, there have been no recorded cases of a squid attacking a human, either intentionally or accidentally. However, they can be very aggressive toward other squid and sperm whales.

Because they’re so elusive, we don’t know for sure how many giant squid there are in the world. We know that they live in all the world’s oceans, mainly sticking to deep sea trenches. There, they have better protection from predators, and a greater chance of finding food.

  • There are organizations dedicated to fighting for the rights of the giant squid, but so far no country has legislated or banned the hunting of these animals. Because they’re not currently at risk of extinction, they’re often hunted in countries like Japan.

The giant squid in popular culture

  • The Kraken, a terrifying creature from Scandinavian mythology, was a squid of extraordinary size that attacked viking boats in the North Sea. In the popular Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the Kraken is also portrayed as a huge, monstrous creature. It serves the infamous Davy Jones, who presides over the ocean’s depths.
  • In Jules Verne’s famous novel 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, a giant squid terrorizes the crew of the Nautilus. Herman Melville also mentions giant squid in his novella, Moby Dick.