25-foot squid found in Monterey Bay

June 26, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's like something out of Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." Scientists in Santa Cruz are studying a giant squid found floating off the coast.

Many gathered on short notice with cameras in hand to get a glimpse of something they had never seen and few people have.

"This is a miraculous thing. There's only four or five of these things found in the history of California science as far as we know," says William Gilly, Ph.D. with Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford.

Laid out on the research table before them was the carcass of an architeuthis, the elusive giant squid.

"It's a very mysterious animal. We don't know a lot about it," says NOAA oceanographer Ken Baltz

The excitement over the discovery started building Wednesday when a crew with the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation spotted the squid. It was floating about 20 miles off the coast of Santa Cruz. The cause of death could possibly be a shark attack, but that's only speculation. Now it will be photographed, examined and dissected.

"It's got a lot of biological material that a lot of researchers are going to be interested in. We're going to measure everything we can," says biologist John Field.

The giant squid is known to grow up to 60 feet and weigh up to a ton. This one is about 25-feet long. One of its two feeding tentacles is intact. It has a powerful beak that shreds its prey and eight arms with its infamous suckers that are powerful enough to take on even a whale.

"They're really effective predators because of these arms and the suckers once they've got something in their arms, it's not going anywhere," says Baltz.

The research community is so hungry for information, calls started going out immediately.

The man who found the giant squid was looking for sharks, but savvy enough to know he stumbled on something important.

"Getting a bunch of valuable genetics and networking with New Zealand, the East Coast and Japan, it's excellent news for the world," says Sean Van Sommeran with the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation.

The world will be watching as researchers learn more about this mysterious creature of the deep.


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