The Joy of Museums

Finding Beauty & Meaning in Museums

Giant Squid

Queensland Museum & Science Centre - Joy of Museums - Giant Squid

This Giant Squid a specimen of the Southern Giant Squid (Family Architeuthidae) is  preserved in an airtight tank of ethanol.  The giant squid is a deep-ocean dwelling squid and can grow to a tremendous size. This specimen is a young male of  7 metres length. The longest recorded being approximately 13 metres. It had been caught in 2004 by fishermen at a depth of 500 metres off the South Island of New Zealand.

The giant squid has a mantle (torso), eight arms, and two longer tentacles. The arms and tentacles account for much of the squid’s great length, making it much lighter than its chief predator, the sperm whale. The Giant Squid have powerful suckers each equipped with hardened rings bearing numerous hooks. These assist the squid in the capture of fish but also leave the circular scars on sperm whales which actively prey on giant squid.

A piece of sperm whale skin with Giant Squid sucker scars

A piece of sperm whale skin with giant squid sucker scars

Giant Squid are among the world’s largest molluscs and heaviest invertebrates which can weigh up to half a tonne. Giant Squid eyes are amongst the largest in the Animal Kingdom and can reach a diameter of approximately 30cm.

20000 squid holding sailor

An illustration depicting a giant squid from the original edition of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

The elusive nature of the giant squid and its strange appearance, have firmly established its place in the human imagination. Representations of the giant squid have been known from early legends of the kraken through books such as Moby-Dick and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Among the many historical objects and exhibits in the Queensland Museum & Science Centre, the following are some highlights:

Essential Facts:

  • Title:                 Giant Squid (Architeuthis sanctipauli)
  • Dates:               2004
  • Findsite:         500 metres off the South Island of New Zealand.
  • Dimensions:    Length – 7 metres
  • Museum:         Queensland Museum & Science Centre

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“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” Charles Darwin

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Photo Credit: By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 2) By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 3) Alphonse de Neuville [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons