Friday Squid Blogging: Giant Squid in Tasmania

In 2002, a 60-foot long giant squid washed up on the beach in Tasmania.

Because of the low number of observations, scientists have struggled to build up a profile of the giant squid, discovering only in the last five years how it reproduces.

It is believed they rarely have an opportunity to mate, and live isolated lives, but it is still unknown where the squid fits on the food chain.

The giant squid is a carnivorous mollusk with a beak-like mouth strong enough to cut through a steel cable and its eyes are the largest in the animal kingdom—growing up to 45 centimeters (18 inches) wide.

The giant squid is believed to feed on, among other things, the world’s biggest animals with several eyewitness stories from fisherman who have seen the squid in fierce battles with whales.

Dead whales have been found washed up on beaches with large sucker marks on their bodies, apparently from squid attacks.

Posted on January 27, 2006 at 4:08 PM17 Comments


Davi Ottenheimer January 27, 2006 5:26 PM

“strong enough to cut through a steel cable”

what size?

the infamous shark-eating video makes the squid v. whale stories seem plausible, but more likely to be the wily octopus, no? i thought this writeup had some interesting comments about the diver’s perspective on the feeding routine in an acquarium. haven’t heard any comparable squid stories, but then again i guess they don’t have any of the giants in captivity.

Curtis January 27, 2006 5:31 PM

Hmmm…I prefered the Weekly World News report of the event (August 27. 2002):


A FREAKISH giant squid weighing 550 pounds washed ashore in Tasmania-- and stunned eyewitnesses by crawling into a nearby restroom and cleaning its tentacles in the sink!

"It hauled itself onto the beach, crawled into a public restroom, turned on the faucets and splashed soap and water on its body to clean itself up," said marine biologist Dan Tetherton.

"The squid also splashed cold water in its face-- perhaps it was trying to get some salt water out of its eye," Tetherton speculated.

"Then the 10-armed creature left and went back to the sea."

The brainy super-squid was later recaptured and hauled by trailer to a research facility."

Kees January 27, 2006 5:39 PM

“scientists have struggled to build up a profile of the giant squid”

I bet if that squid ever flies anywhere near the USA it will be profiled…

Ian January 27, 2006 8:14 PM

“It is believed they rarely have an opportunity to mate, and live isolated lives, but it is still unknown where the squid fits on the food chain.”

In other words, squids are geeks.

another_bruce January 28, 2006 1:43 AM

“it is believed they rarely have an opportunity to mate…”
yeah, but quality is more important than quantity. they get to shtup weightless, 1000 meters below the ocean surface in what must be the perfect ambient temperature for them, with ten arms each to wrap around their inamolluskerata. the boy squid never has to feign interest while the girl squid parses her feelings.

Dom De Vitto January 28, 2006 3:44 AM

Sperm whales are also known to eat giant squid – I doubt that a architufus (whatever) could consume even a small whale. So I’d be surprised if the above is accurate – “marks” are often made when eating prey, as well as being eaten by one.

Recently researchers could one on film by following sperm whale mgration and leaving motion-sensing cameras on the end of food pots on the end of giant fishing hooks.
The only giant squid they filmed fought for hours with the hooks, and finally got free, but left a tenticle behind.

Li-Squid-Ator January 28, 2006 8:11 AM

That science guy made an interesting
security tradeoff. He did not insure his
200k$ minisub. I wonder what his agenda
looks like.

JakeS January 28, 2006 3:45 PM

That’s not a security trade-off, it’s a financial trade-off, and quite a common one. An underwriter, faced with an unusual object like that sub, wouldn’t be able to assess the risks and would probably ask for far too much of a premium.

Li-Squid-Ator January 28, 2006 4:45 PM


He made a decision between added
security (insurance for his equipment)
and his wallet. Thats trading security
against finances. So we are both right,
depending from which side you look
at it.

Not being able to access the risks, does
not mean that doing a risk assessment
cannot be done. Risk assessment is done
according to the agenda of the decisionmakes.

Rich January 29, 2006 10:17 PM

Can’t they do some kind of squid DNA testing to see if suction marks on dead whales come from the same squid or type of squids?

Jan Egil Kristiansen January 30, 2006 3:49 AM

Squid attack? The whale being hurt or even killed by a squid, is proof of a fight.

But it doesn’t prove that the squid attacked. And it seems strange that they appearently attack sperm whales only?

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