The crew aboard Sanford Seafood Company's fishing vessel San Aspiring were fishing for Patagonian toothfish in Antarctica's Ross Sea several months ago when they pulled a colossal squid that weighed approximately 350 kilograms and measured 3.5 meters from its fin to tentacles.
Also known as the giant cranch squid, the colossal squid is known to be the biggest squid species in terms of mass and is also considered the largest-known invertebrate. Although this beast is shorter than the giant squid, it is heavier with the largest known specimen weighing about 500 kg.
"It was partly alive, it was still hanging onto the fish," said Captain John Bennett, who hauled the gigantic beast with his crew. "Just a big bulk in the water. They're huge, and the mantle's all filled with water. It's quite an awesome sight."
The gigantic creature was later donated to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, where it had been kept in optimum freezing temperature until a group of scientists thawed it on Monday, a process that involved hours, and dissected it.
Te Papa senior curator Susan Waugh said that scientists want to know more about the rarely seen creature such as where it fits in the food chain and how the colossal squid lives and dies. During the three-hour dissection process that was documented on video and has so far gathered over 400,000 views on Youtube, scientists from Te Papa and Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand cut select parts of the animal including its mantle and beak.
Kat Bolstad, from Auckland University of Technology, said that it was the most perfect colossal squid she had seen. She also described the specimen to have perfect eyes measuring 35 centimeters in diameter.
"They have very large and very delicate eyes because they live in the deep sea. It's very rare to see an eye in good condition at all," Bolstad said adding that because the creature was very well preserved it allowed scientist to examine it in detail including the lens of its eyes.
What the scientists are most excited with is discovering that the squid is a female and was actually pregnant when it was caught by the fishermen as they have found that the animal has eggs inside it.
"In her last discussion tankside, Kat reveals that our new colossal squid is female & has eggs in its mantle! #squidwatch #sciencelivetepapa," Te Papa tweeted.