boston.com your connection to The Boston Globe

Huge squid hauled from deep

Creature caught off New Zealand

Captain John Bennett examined the huge adult male colossal squid on board his fishing boat in New Zealand yesterday. The specimen is thought to be the heaviest of its kind ever found. Captain John Bennett examined the huge adult male colossal squid on board his fishing boat in New Zealand yesterday. The specimen is thought to be the heaviest of its kind ever found. (New Zealand Ministry of fisheries)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- A fishing crew has caught a colossal squid that could weigh a half-ton and prove to be the biggest specimen ever landed, a fisheries official said yesterday.

The squid, about 39 feet long and weighing an estimated 990 pounds, took two hours to land in Antarctic waters, New Zealand Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said.

The fishermen were catching Patagonian toothfish, sold under the name Chilean sea bass, south of New Zealand "and the squid was eating a hooked toothfish when it was hauled from the deep," Anderton said.

The fishing crew and a fisheries official on board their ship estimated the length and weight of the squid. Detailed, official measurements have not been made. The date when the colossus was caught also was not disclosed.

Colossal squid, known by the scientific name Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, are estimated to grow up to 46 feet long and have long been one of the most mysterious creatures of the deep ocean.

If original estimates are correct, the squid would be 330 pounds heavier than the next biggest specimen ever found.

"I can assure you that this is going to draw phenomenal interest. It is truly amazing," said Dr. Steve O'Shea, a squid specialist at the Auckland University of Technology.

If calamari rings were made from the squid they would be the size of tractor tires, he added.

Colossal squid can descend to 6,500 feet and are extremely active, aggressive hunters, he said.

The frozen squid will be transported to New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa, in the capital, Wellington, to be preserved for scientific study.

Marine scientists "will be very interested in this amazing creature as it adds immeasurably to our understanding of the marine environment," Anderton said.

Colossal squid are found in Antarctic waters and are different than giant squid found near the coast of New Zealand. Giant squid grow up to 39 feet long, but are not as heavy as colossal squid.

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES