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Sea Monsters of the Pacific: The Giant Squid

November 21, 2013

In this series, we will explore the mythical (and not so mythical) sea creatures that live in the Pacific Ocean. From Japanese water-ghosts to the very real giant squid, from Maori water spirits to sperm whales, we will have a look at the creatures that have haunted the waters of the Pacific. Luckily, none of our whale watching boats has ever encountered a sea monster… yet.

For our first post, we’ll look at a real sea monster, the giant squid.

How big are giant squids?

Giant squids are on average 10 to 12 meters long, including the tentacles. Although there are reports of giant squids measuring up to 20 meters, there has not been any scientific observation of such specimens. 10 meters is the length of a school bus and even though it wouldn’t pose a risk to any vessel, it would still be a bit eerie to see.

The giant squid has a cousin, the colossal squid, which lives in the waters surrounding the Antarctic. It can reach 14 meters.

Where do giant squids live?

Giant squids live in all the oceans of the world and tend live at depths between 300-1000m. They like coastal temperate waters and usually stay away from polar or tropical latitudes.

What mythology surrounds the giant squid?

Giant squids have a long history of mythical sightings. Scylla, the Greek mythological creature, could have been a giant squid, as well as Lusca, a creature known to the first inhabitants of the Caribbean.

But the most famous giant squid myth is the Norse legend of the kraken, a monster as big as an island that can sink a ship by taking it down with its tentacles.

The kraken has an important presence in popular culture, from Twenty Leagues Under the Sea to Pirates of the Caribbean. H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu monster may also have been inspired by the myth of the kraken.

Giant squids have inspired awe and fear into the hearts of sailors everywhere around the world. While there is no real evidence that squid’s attack—some have latched on ships, but seemingly not with the intent to cause harm. The fear probably comes from the strange and striking appearance of this creature.

Photo by Robert Hiscock

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