Giant Squid Examination

Biologists from the SWFSC Fisheries Ecology Division (FED), together with colleagues from Hopkins Marine Station, UCSC and other local research institutions, did an examination of a giant squid (Architeuthis) specimen collected June 25 in Monterey Bay, CA. The specimen was collected approximately twelve nautical miles off of Santa Cruz near the north edge of the Monterey Canyon, in approximately 700 fathoms of water, by Sean Van Sommeran and Callaghan Fritz-Cope of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation, who agreed to allow a team of local biologists examine the specimen.

John Field and Ken Baltz of FED, together with William Gilly, Lou Zeidberg, Julie Stewart and Ashley Booth from Hopkins and Guy Oliver from UCSC performed the initial examination and partial dissection on June 26, with assistance from the team that found the squid and a larger number of assistants and colleagues in the local research community. The specimen was incomplete, and had been partially eaten by scavengers and/or predators. Although two large pieces were recovered (1. head and pieces of arms and one tentacle, and 2. the mantle), most of the internal organs (including gonads and stomach), as well as the eyes, were missing. Tissue samples (including skin), the beak and buccal mass, gills, statoliths, ganglia, pineal gland and muscle samples were removed and preserved for additional research, the additional remains were frozen and awaiting transportation to the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum where they will be preserved and archived in that collection by Eric Hochberg.

Some very basic details of what was recovered: the mantle length was estimated at 169cm, the length of the mantle plus the head and the longest piece of a feeding tentacle (which are much longer than the arms of this specimen) was 273 cm, for a total observed length of about 441.5 cm. As the arms and tentacles were incomplete the total length was greater- likely on the order of 1 to 2 meters, although this is no more than a guess at this stage. The total weight of the specimen was 76.7 kg, again this is missing much of the mantle, internal organs, and much of the arms, consequently the total weight was likely on the order of 100 kg.

(June 30, 2008)