Posted by: The ocean update | May 27, 2016

Giant squids might be even more giant than we realized, study suggests

On Oct. 1, 2013, a 30-foot-long giant squid washed ashore in the Spanish community of Cantabria. Credit : Enrique Talledo, www.enriquetalledo.com

On Oct. 1, 2013, a 30-foot-long giant squid washed ashore in the Spanish community of Cantabria. Credit : Enrique Talledo, http://www.enriquetalledo.com

May 27th, 2016 (Miles Surrey). The legend of the kraken, a tentacled sea monster with that supposedly could sink whole ships, sounds like a preposterous fishing tale, but what if such a creature could in fact exis ? The giant squid may be more related to the kraken than we realized — and much larger than initially perceived. 

According to research from Charles Paxton, fisheries ecologist and statistician at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews, published in the Journal of Zoology this month, the giant squid could grow to reach as much as 65 feet. Even then, it’s a “conservative analysis,” he said in an interview with Live Science.

Paxton examined the beaks of giant squid — first photographed alive in 2004, though it has been documented for centuries — to determine the rest of the creature’s length. The beaks can often be found separately from the body, in the digestive tracks of sperm whales. Therefore, a reason the giant squid would be so large, Paxton theorizes, is to avoid being eaten by sperm whales, which is its biggest predator in the ocean.

“It’d be interesting to find out if they do ever reach a size where they cannot ever be eaten by sperm whales,” he told Live Science. Still, Paxton said, his findings don’t suggest it could reach the length of the largest mammal on Earth, the blue whale, which spans nearly 100 feet. “I don’t think giant squid can get that big, but while a measurement of a giant squid total length of 19 meters [62 feet] can be questioned, I’d say it certainly wasn’t impossible,” Paxton told Live Science.

The purported length is still around the size of a school bus, which is pretty impressive. Just don’t expect it to take out a ship anytime soon, despite what Pirates of the Caribbean might lead viewers to believe.

In 1954, two men in Norway inspected a 30.2-foot-long (9.2 meters) giant squid. Credit : NTNU Museum of Natural History and Archeaology, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1954, two men in Norway inspected a 30.2-foot-long (9.2 meters) giant squid. Credit : NTNU Museum of Natural History and Archeaology, via Wikimedia Commons

Citation : Paxton, C. G. M. (2016), Unleashing the Kraken : on the maximum length in giant squid (Architeuthis sp.). J Zool. do :10.1111/jzo.12347

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