Giant squids still have a near-mythological status precisely because they are so rarely seen by humans. However, this fishing crew has caught two in the past couple of months in the waters around Ireland.
The most recent of which was caught off the coast of Kerry and measured nearly 5.5 meters (18 feet) from tip to tentacle. In total, the Cú na Mara crew have caught a total of four during their tenure as fishermen. Luck of the Irish, I suppose.
“When we opened the net we couldn’t believe it, that it was another one,” Skipper Patrick Flannery, told Irish national broadcaster RTÉ. “The lads were very excited. What are the chances of two in the one year!”
“My father has two and I have two. I’ll probably have to catch a third now so that I can have bragging rights.”
The reason why so many squids (and yes, the plural can be squids) have been scooped up recently is unknown. But then again, there are many things about giant squids that scientists are unsure about.
“Only seven have been recorded here since records began almost 350 years ago,” added marine biologist Dr Kevin Flannery “The very first giant squid recorded in Ireland also landed in Dingle, when fishermen brought one ashore in 1673.”
As a testament to how little we know about these mysterious creatures, the latest evidence suggests there is just one species of giant squid although it’s previously been debated how many species have existed. There have been odd sightings of giant squid along the coasts of every continent, as well as very deep and far out at sea. However, they are few and far between, so their exact distribution across the world’s seas is not known. We also know next to nothing about their behavior.
The reason why these animals grow so large could be to do with a phenomenon called deep-sea gigantism, just as is the case with oarfish, the Japanese spider crab, and giant isopods. Scarcer food resources, greater pressure, or freezing cold water temperatures could explain why animals in the deep sea are so much larger than their shallow-water counterparts,
Perhaps this obscurity is why these creatures have inspired so many myths, such as the tales of the kraken and other sea monsters, and continue to intrigue people to this day.