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Friday, 23 March 2012

The Colossal Squid

The colossal squid is a rare creature; Steve O’Shea is one of only a few scientists that have worked on these animals. Their existence has only been known since 1925 and only 5 have ever been found. The Ross Sea is where most of the specimens have been found.

There are only 5 reports of colossal squid the first was discovered in 1925 in the stomach of a sperm whale and all that was left was the tentacles, the second was discovered in 1981 and the scientist believed the specimen to be an immature female, the third was discovered in 2003 and it was a sub adult specimen with a mantle length of 8ft the fourth was found in 2005 and weighed around 150 to 200kg, The fifth colossal squid was caught in 2007, it was the largest one caught where all the organs had minimal damage, it weighed 330 pounds and was 16 foot long, Steve O’Shea said the squid was female and young as well; an adult would be much bigger. 2 of the specimens were found in the Ross Sea and another found off of South Georgia Island

The mantle of the squid is like the human torso; it contains all the major organs even the squid’s brain is in the mantle, the oesophagus runs straight through the doughnut shaped brain of the colossal squid. The colossal squid have the largest animal eyes known to man, the eyes can be as big as 27cm across, the eyes also have their own built in headlights, this is due to the animals adapting to their 1000 meter depth habitat which is 400-500 meters more than the human eye can see sunlight, the animals are part of a chemical reaction in the sea which is called bioluminescence they use this to see their prey.

The colossal squid has 3 hearts, 2 are branchial hearts that pumps the blood to the gills then to the systemic heart the blood is then pumped to the rest of the body. The blood of the colossal squid is blue due to the blood being a copper-containing compound whereas human blood is an iron-containing compound.

Reproducing starts within the mantle of the female when she is collecting her eggs together, she binds the eggs together into a ball like shape by using a jelly like floating mass, when the eggs are in a secure ball the female pushes the ball out of the funnel, she then cradles the eggs in her arms and waits for the male to come long and fertilise the eggs. The male then attaches himself to the female so that she cannot get away he then stabs her in the arm with his penis and releases the sperm, the sperm then travels through the arms closer to the egg once it reaches the egg the sperm is released to fertilise the eggs. The eggs should only take 3 weeks to hatch, once the eggs hatch and are released into the sea the female dies and sinks to the bottom of the ocean, the man doing the voiceover for the TV program Inside Natures Giants – The Giant Squid specialist said “this is the final act in a truly alien life story”.

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