Beachgoers in the Spanish community of Cantabria were astonished Tuesday when they stumbled onto the carcass of a giant squid that had washed ashore almost fully intact.
The deep-sea denizen—the fabled and mysterious Architeuthis Dux—measured 30 feet and weighed nearly 400 pounds.
It was delivered to the Maritime Museum of Cantabria, where it was cleaned and frozen, while a decision is awaited between museum scientists and the government as to what will be done with the colossal cephalopod.
(According to El Diario Montanes, there has been some argument regarding ownership, and it remains unclear whether the squid will be put on display, eventually, or dissected in the name of science. According to some reports it was initially to be simply cremated.)
Regardless, the discovery was remarkable, considering that giant squid, although they’re the largest invertebrates on earth, are extremely elusive and, thus, difficult to study.
They generally reside at depths of between 1,000 and 3,000 feet, and most of what scientists have learned has come from carcasses that have washed ashore, and rarely are entire carcasses found.
However, scientists are persistent in their quest to learn more. In 2004, Japanese researchers captured the first known live images of giant squid. In 2006, a team of Japanese researchers brought to the surface a live female squid measuring 24 feet.
The mysterious creatures, meanwhile, remain steeped in lore.
In the times of ancient mariners, Architeuthis Dux, which resides in the lightless depths of all of the world’s oceans, is believed to have spawned tales of sea monsters, such as the legendary Kraken.
Architeuthis Dux was one of the vicious creatures in Jules Verne’s classic science fiction novel, “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.” (First published in 1870; made into a Disney movie in 1954.)
It was represented in other books, too, from Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” to Ian Fleming’s “Dr. No,” to Peter Benchley’s “Beast” (later adapted as a film, “The Beast”).
To many, the mere mention of giant squid conjures images of the beasts waging vicious battles with deep-diving sperm whales, although in these battles the squid is the prey and the whales are the predators.
The giant squid that washed ashore in Cantabria was photographed by Enrique Talledo, who allowed the use of images accompanying this story.
“The animal died at sea and ocean currents brought it to the coast,” Talledo said via email. “The squid was in good condition except one [tentacle] had been broken.”
He remarked the eyes were gigantic and almost lifelike.
That’s no surprise because the giant squid, according to National Geographic, possess the largest eyes in the animal kingdom. They can measure 10 inches in diameter, almost the size of beach balls, and it’s believed the size helps the creatures detect objects in their dark habitat.
There are only a handful of museums that have a giant squid carcass on display. Hopefully, the public in Cantabria will soon be able to admire this remarkable specimen.
–Find photographer Enrique Talledo on Facebook