Bruce Bennett, a local resident from Kaikoura, a town in South Island, New Zealand, discovered a giant squid on the beach at South Bay while strolling with his dog at around 8:30 a.m. on Thursday.
Bennett stated that he remembers a giant squid being discovered at sea, but that he had never seen larger squid get washed up on the coast of South Island.
Kaikoura Marine Centre and Aquarium personnel measured the giant cephalopod, which is an incredible 7.5 meters or over 24 feet long. The mantle or the dorsal body of the squid is about 6.6 feet in length while the eye is more than half a foot in diameter. The longest tentacle of the squid measured 16 feet. The head was over 7 feet with a circumference of more than 5 feet.
Though it was not immediately known what the weight and age of the giant sea creature were, the presence of ovaries confirmed that the giant squid was female.
Megan Lewis, Kaikoura Marine Centre and Aquarium's owner and also a marine biologist, said that the giant squid was immediately transported to a freezer, which is on display at the aquarium.
"The majority of its weight is in the head, which is in pristine condition," she said. "There's no indication of how it died—the stomach was full so it wasn't hungry."
Samples are already being requested by Otago and Auckland Universities to learn more about giant squid. Lewis stated that it would be made available for other study centers as well.
Giant squid are very elusive in the wild and are among the deep sea's most mysterious creatures.
The total number of different giant squid species has been disputed, but recent genetic research purports that only one species exists.
Giant squid feed on deep-sea fish and other squid species. The sea creatures catch prey by using the two tentacles, gripping the prey with jagged sucker rings on the ends.
Large cephalopods are believed to be lone hunters, since only a single giant squid is trapped in fishing nets each time the creature is caught.
Sperm whales are the only known predators of adult giant squid and, since these whales are very skilled at hunting, researchers are observing them to also study the giant squid.
Lewis said the giant squid will remain on display at the aquarium center for now.
"We love showing people what comes out of the [Kaikoura] canyon," she added.