The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and Auckland University of Technology have collected a squid and are going to be examining it live on the web for everyone to see. This isn’t just some ordinary squid; this is a colossal squid, and only two specimens have ever been recovered intact. The last specimen was examined in 2008.
Colossal squids are found in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, diving as deep as 2.2 kilometers (7,200 feet). Like all squid, they have 8 arms and two tentacles. The tentacles of the colossal squid are outfitted with sharp, multi-pointed hooks that can even swivel to help trap prey—not that it is really clear what they eat. These squids are not enormous apex predators; they make up a large portion of sperm whales’ diet.
This colossal squid specimen was retrieved by a fishing vessel from the Ross Sea in Antarctica earlier this year, but has been frozen since then. It has been defrosted and a team of specialists are preparing to examine it. The museum received a female colossal squid from the same location in 2008. The new squid is appears to be a bit smaller, and everyone on the research team has fingers crossed that it will be a male. This would be the first known male colossal squid ever recovered.
In addition to determining the sex of the specimen, they will check the stomach contents to see what the squid eats and do genetic analysis on tissue samples in order to determine how the squid relates to other known species. After the examination, the specimen will be fixed and put on display at the museum alongside the specimen from 2008.
To participate in the conversation, use #squidwatch or #sciencelivetepapa in social media. The live feed will begin at 7 pm EDT, and you can tune into the webcast right here:
Wonder Of Science