Giant Squids: Monsters of the Deep
(picture of a giant squid)
Unicorns, Giant Squids, Dragons, Bigfoot, and Phoenixes- one of these is not like the other. If you guessed giant squid, congratulations you are correct! Out of all these seemingly fantastical animals, giant squids are the only ones to have been scientifically proven to exist. Now we’re just waiting for the unicorns to be confirmed.
Let’s first take a look at the anatomy of the giant squid. The simplest explanation possible is imagine a small squid you saw at an aquarium or a local fish market, then just scale that up by 30x. Giant squids are the largest known invertebrate, and some specimen have been documented at a staggering 12m (39ft) Other than their daunting size though, their anatomy is pretty much identical to a regular, small squid (you can check out our squid anatomy video here to learn more). Two distinctions that giant squid have from regular squid are they’re huge, highly sensitive eyes that allow them to see in the deep sea (and is the biggest eye known of all animals), and their surprisingly complex nervous system.
Now you may be wondering what such a huge organism’s diet consists of. If you were picturing the iconic scene of a giant squid wrapping its tentacles around a sperm whale, I’m sorry to let you down but that’s incorrect. Although huge, giant squids are nowhere near big/strong enough to eat sperm whales. Oftentimes it works the other way around, where sperm whales predate on giant squids (remnants of this huge invertebrate have been found in sperm whale stomachs). Even if it is significantly less exciting, we’ll have to settle for the fact that giant squids mostly feed on shrimp, fish, and smaller squids.
If I got you waiting for more information about the giant squid, I hate to tell you that the only things scientists currently solidly know about the giant squid is their basic anatomy, what they feed on, and what feeds on them. Giant squid are elusive deep-sea creatures, and the only way we can study them is through carcasses washed up on shores- which doesn’t really tell you much. Luckily, scientists have recently succeeded in taking images of live giant squids in the wild and have even captured a live specimen in Japan, so fingers-crossed that we’ll soon know more about these fascinating organisms. But for now, anything we know about their taxonomy, reproductive cycle, conservation status, and more, are mere speculations.
Photo credit: http://ourmarinespecies.com/c-squid/giant-squids/