For ages, squids have continued to fascinate scientists. Not much is known about the history of squids, but there have been numerous tales about sea monsters with long and giant tentacles who have dragged fishermen into the sea. But are these stories really true? Let’s find out!
Squids are soft-bodied, ink-squirting cephalopods and are incredibly smart! Classified as swift swimmers, squids are found both in coastal and oceanic water. There are numerous squids with different sizes in the sea and they also serve as food for many, like the blue whale, fishes and human beings.
Fun Fact: In Hakodate, Japan, there takes place an annual squid festival, which attracts thousands of spectators and squid lovers. Squids are a large part of their culture. During this festival, the people dance on an upbeat song with a series of clapping and arm movements that resemble the swimming movements of the squids.
1. Colossal Squid
Scientific Name: Mesonychoteuthis Hamiltoni
Average Weight: 495 kg
Estimated Length: Upto 46 feet
Colossal squids, aka Antarctica cranch squids, are one of the largest and mysterious of the cephalopods, they can weigh up-to 500 kg and measure up-to 46 feet in length. These massive sea creatures have three main body parts – the mantle and fin, the head, and a circle of tentacles and arms. The Colossal squids were first identified in 1925 when their arms were recovered from a whale’s stomach.
Colossal squids have eyes that measure almost 25 cm in diameter which are thought to be the largest eyes in the entire animal kingdom. They also have the largest beaks, which makes them a fearsome predator along with the 25 rotating hooks found in two rows on the ends of their tentacles.
A deep sea species, they are usually found 1,000 metres deep in the sea, making it very difficult for scientists to gather information about them. The Colossal squids have been known to prey on large fish species. However, because of its remote location, this species is not considered dangerous for humans.
2. Giant Squid
Scientific Name: Architeuthis dux
Average Weight: 275 kg
Estimated Length: Upto 43 feet
Giant Squids are the largest invertebrate on earth. They can measure upto 43 feet in length and nearly weigh a ton! They have the biggest eyes in the entire animal kingdom, measuring almost 10 inches in diameter. Since these squids live very deep in the water, these massive organs help them to detect objects.
A giant squid has two eyes, a beak, eight arms, two feeding tentacles, and a funnel (also called a siphon). These creatures can catch their prey upto 33 feet away using their tentacles which are equipped with very powerful sharp toothed suckers.
Their diet likely consists of fish, shrimp, and other squid, and they are believed to even attack and eat small whales. Giant squids live for about five years, and during this time, they reproduce only once. While mostly all the eggs get eaten by other marine life, a few survive and in a few years, become giant marine predators.
3. Humboldt Squid
Scientific Name: Dosidicus gigas
Average Weight: 50 kg
Estimated Length: 4 feet
The Humboldt squid is mainly found throughout the eastern Pacific Ocean, in the deep waters of Humboldt current. This squid is named after an explorer who visited the region around the 19th century. The Humboldt squid lives nearly 2,000 feet below the sea surface and during its lifetime of just one year, it grows rapidly and reproduces multiple times.
These animals possess extraordinary eyesight, a razor-sharp beak, and eight tentacles lined with hundreds of barbed-like hooks on their suckers, which they use to grasp and tear apart their prey. They are also capable of rapidly changing the texture and colour of their skin.
While hunting, these squids emit a bright red light and because of this, they have earned the name of ‘red evil.’ Their tentacles have about 200 suckers, with which they grasp their prey and drag it towards their large beak. Propelled by their two fins, they can swim underwater at a speed of 24 km/hr.
Here are the biggest squids in the world that have been discovered by people and scientists across the world.
7. Giant Squid in United States
A giant squid was caught on camera in June 2019 at a depth of 759 metres in the Gulf of Mexico. Estimated to be upto 3.7 meters long, this juvenile squid was spotted by an international team of scientists.
This giant squid was trying to grab a lure attached to a deep sea research vessel when it was caught on camera. This large tubular animal that revealed an enormous set of arms and tentacles, emerged from the dark, thus making it difficult to tell its exact size.
This was the first time that a giant had been filmed in the waters off the southern coast of the United States.
6. Giant Squid in Japan
On the eve of Christmas in 2015, a giant squid measuring 3.7 meters long, was sighted at Toyama Bay in Japan. This squid was spotted by surprised onlookers, who hung around the Bay for several hours in awe of the mighty beast.
This video of one of the biggest squids in the world was caught by a camera and this creature was also joined by a diver, who swam in close proximity to the red and white monster. The diver, Akinobu Kimura, said that the squid looked lively and spurted ink while trying to entangle him in his tentacles.
While it is not known how this squid ended up in the bay, the diver successfully guided it back into the ocean several hundred metres away.
5. Architeuthis in Pacific Ocean
In 2013, Japan’s National Science Museum filmed a giant squid at a depth of 2,066 feet in the Pacific Ocean. This three-metre squid was discovered by the Japanese team after around 100 missions and spending 400 hours in a cramped submarine.
This mission was carried out in collaboration with Japanese Public Broadcaster NHK and the US Discovery Channel. The three-man crew tracked the creature from a spot some 15 kilometres east of Chichi island in the north Pacific.
The squid which had huge black eyes, swam against the current, holding a bait squid in its arms. The creature had two of its longest arms missing and it was estimated that it would have been eight metres long if it had been whole.
This was the first video footage of a live giant squid in its natural habitat—the depths of the sea where there is very little oxygen and the weight of the water exerts enormous pressure!
4. Gigantic Squid in Cantabrian Sea
One of the biggest squids in the world was washed ashore in 2013 at La Arena beach in the Spanish community of Cantabria. This beast measured a massive 30 feet in length and weighs a whopping 180 kilograms!
This giant squid, whose oversized eyes and gargantuan blob of a body make it look more mythical than real beast. The gigantic squid was delivered to the maritime Museum of Cantabria, where it was cleaned and frozen. The squid was so beautiful and shining that it almost looked lifelike.
3. Colossal Squid in Antarctica’s Ross Sea
In September 2014, a colossal squid, as long as a minibus, was caught by Capt. John Benett and his crew in Antarctica’s Ross Sea. This massive creature had tentacles like fire hoses and eyes as big as dinner plates! Weighing nearly 500 kilograms, the squid measured 8 metres in length.
The squid was a female, and her eight arms were well over a meter (3.3 feet) long. Its two tentacles would have been perhaps double that length if they had not been damaged. This squid was captured, the specimen was frozen and, a few months later, dissected by a group of New Zealand scientists.
2. Red Evil Squid in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez
Marine Biologist William Gilly has been studying the Humboldt squid for a long time and during one of his classes, he took his students out in the sea. Luckily, they did spot the Humboldt squid. Humboldt squids usually come out after dusk, when the light has almost gone.
The squid changed its colour from pale pink to red as fast as four times per second. This has earned them the name of red evil. The squid was making circles around their boat in circles as big as a tyre. He suspected that the squid had come out in search of food. This squid has been considered as one of the biggest squids of this species in the world till date.
1. ‘Plastic’ Squid in Cape Town
In 2017, paddleboarder James Taylor discovered a giant squid nearMelkbosstrand, a coastal village about 20 miles north of Cape Town. While James kept thinking that it was a piece of plastic, it didn’t really look right. He got closer to this ‘piece of plastic’ only to realise that it was a giant squid!
No sooner than James uploaded this video on social media, it got viral. Some claimed that the squid had come out to say a friendly hello, while others said that Taylor was trying to help the animal. But as it later turned out, this squid had been injured and Taylor decided to bring it to the shore.
Considered one of the biggest squids in the world, it was trying to wrap its tentacles around the diver’s surfing board and one of the squid’s razor-sharp suckers actually nicked Taylor’s leg during the encounter.
After pulling the squid out of the sea with a rope, the squid did not move at all. In a humane attempt, Taylor decided to put an end to the squid’s miseries and severed its head.
Despite a fewnegative reactions from online commenters, Taylor stands by hisdecision to haul the animal to shore.