Divers visiting New Zealand's south coast of Wellington were looking for a nice spot to go spearfishing Saturday morning (Aug. 25) when they spotted one of the ocean's most impressive creatures of the deep: a dead, but fully intact, giant squid.
"After we went for a dive we went back to [the squid] and got a tape measure out, and it measured 4.2 meters [13 feet] long," one of the divers, Daniel Aplin, told the New Zealand Herald.
A representative from the New Zealand Department of Conservation told the Herald that the divers most likely found a giant squid (Architeuthis dux) and not a colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni). [Photos of the Stunning Deep-Sea Squid Feeding]
Both species of squid are formidable sea creatures, with giant squid typically reaching 16 feet (5 m) long, according to the Smithsonian, and the colossal squid reaching over 30 feet (10 m) long, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Scientists know very little about these deep-sea-dwelling species, because the animals are so rarely seen. Most observations come from the occasional specimen washing ashore, as in this case, or getting accidently captured by fishers.
The enormous tentacled creature's cause of death is unknown. Aplin told the Herald that the squid appeared unscathed except for a scratch that was so tiny that the diver "wouldn't think that's what killed it." When the divers checked the squid out again after their dive, they thought it had shrunk a little, but no animals had decided to make a meal out of the dead beast, Aplin said.
He called a friend from New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) who arranged for the squid to be collected, the Herald reported.
Aplin is an employee of Ocean Hunter Spearfishing & Freediving Specialists, and posted his photos of the giant squid on the company's Facebook page, which elicited a wealth of commentary. "Imagine that swimming past!" wrote one commenter. "Who's up for calamari?" wrote another.
Original article on Live Science.
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Kimberly has a bachelor's degree in marine biology from Texas A&M University, a master's degree in biology from Southeastern Louisiana University and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is a former reference editor for Live Science and Space.com. Her work has appeared in Inside Science, News from Science, the San Jose Mercury and others. Her favorite stories include those about animals and obscurities. A Texas native, Kim now lives in a California redwood forest.