200 kilograms, over 4 meters in length. Who released the Kraken?
Everyone loves the ocean, right? Well, not everyone, there are those of us who love colder weather. But I admit, from time to time I like to hang out at the beach, grab a cocktail or cold beer, and take a swim in the ocean.
Every time I do take a swim, I don’t usually think about what may lurk beneath my feet. I mean, why would I? It’s hot outside, the water is refreshing, and the only thing I should be thinking about is having a good time, right? Probably, but after seeing this gigantic squid stranded on a South African beach, I won’t feel so comfortable swimming around in the ocean.
The amazing creature has a weight of over 200 kilograms and is over 4 meters long. It was found on the coast of Britannia Bay, in South Africa.
People walking on the beach sighted the animal lying on the sand and went on to take images and videos of it. It’s massive, it looks weird, and I feel sorry that it ended up stranded on the beach. But I also feel sorry for the fact that I won’t nearly enjoy the ocean as much as I did before seeing it, and it makes me feel totally uncomfortable about what else lies down there.
Come to think about it, it also is kind of exciting since we know very little about the ocean, and have explored no more than 5 % to date. It’s kind of sad that we know more about distant planets than Earth’s oceans.
The Krakren–we’ll almost
Protagonists of multiple legends of the ancient sailors, giant squids, are extremely elusive, being that a live specimen was never photographed before 2002, and only in 2006 divers managed to film one on video. This makes the group of people in South Africa, including Adéle Grosse, who filmed the video we share here, very fortunate (or unfortunate?) to have spotted the animal lying on the beach.
In the images of the creature, we can clearly see its massive conical body, its giant eyes – the largest in the animal kingdom -, its eight large tentacles and its beak-shaped mouth.
The giant creatures are rarely seen because they are believed to live around 3,000 meters beneath the surface, where spotting them is very hard.
However, we are learning more about them thanks to new technologies and the specimens that appear every once in a while on the beaches.
Earlier this year, the entire genome of a giant squid (Architeuthis dux) was sequenced for the first time, revealing that they have high intelligence, on a par with that of a dog.
What happened to it?
Following the find, marine biologists from the Iziko Museum in South Africa were alerted of the stranded giant squid. The animal was already safeguarded and preserved, awaiting study.
Wayne Florence, the curator of marine invertebrates, said that “it was surprising to see the creature on the beach.”
“Lately, we have had a great public interest in the subject; in fact, many people hardly know that these giants really exist.”
For now, there is no certainty what may have killed the sea creature, but scientists hope to find out soon, once the coronavirus restrictions ease.
“We can only determine the cause of death once we dissect the specimen,” said Florence. “Although it is in very good physical condition, so I think we can rule out something like trawling.”
“The giant squid is already in a museum freezer, and we have made preliminary measurements and taken skin samples for DNA analysis,” he concluded.