In Antarctica's Ross Sea, a fishing boat has caught what is likely the world's biggest known colossal squid (yes, that's the species' name), New Zealand officials announced today.
Heavier than even giant squid, colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) have eyes as wide as dinner plates and sharp hooks on some of their suckers. The new specimen weighs in at an estimated 990 pounds (450 kilograms).
The sea monster had become entangled while feeding on Patagonian toothfish (toothfish photos) caught on long lines of hooks. The crew then maneuvered the squid into a net and painstakingly hauled it aboard—a two-hour process.
The animal was frozen and placed in a massive freezer below decks. Now in New Zealand, the carcass awaits scientific analysis.
"Even basic questions such as how large does this species grow to and how long does it live for are not yet known," said New Zealand Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton in a statement.
The deep-sea species was first discovered in 1925, though the only evidence was two tentacles found in a sperm whale's stomach. Since then there have been only a scattering of sightings, including a colossal squid caught in 2003 in the same region as the recent find.
The new specimen is likely the first intact male ever recovered, Anderton said.
Squid expert Steve O'Shea told local press, "I can assure you that this is going to draw phenomenal interest."
For one thing, added the Auckland University of Technology professor, the squid would yield calamari rings the size of tractor tires.