Bloated Giant Squid Was No Vicious Killer

By Andrew Moseman | August 21, 2008 2:21 pm

SquidA person’s first thought of a giant squid might be the bloodthirsty behemoth that attacks seafarers in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. But the animal’s reputation is a little over-inflated—the giant squid discovered last year might have been just a docile blob.

A New Zealand boat fishing in the Antarctic brought in the 1,000-pound female squid, and scientists have been studying the sea creature over the last year. But looking at its biology, they found that it’s unlikely the animal was a great ocean predator. Rather, the female squid bore quite a mother’s burden; the thousands of eggs she carried caused her to expand into a big blob as she got older, says marine biologist Steve O’Shea.

As a result, the female’s ability to hunt would have been diminished. O’Shea says she probably just floated around and ate dead fish while her mate, who was presumably not expanding into a gelatinous orb, went off to hunt.

All is not lost for the squid’s public image, though. The specimen is going on display in Wellington, New Zealand, later this year, so perhaps its intimidating appearance will help restore its nasty reputation—after all, giant squids might even be cannibals.

Image: NASA


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