Unusually Intact Giant Squid Found Off Canary Islands

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is under the ocean. Despite this massive expanse of water covering the bulk of the planet, however, we know very little about it. A mere 5% of the ocean has been explored, the vast majority left untouched and unseen by humans.

The average depth of the ocean is over 2 miles, with the deepest known point stretching close to 7 miles beneath the surface. New species of sea life are discovered all the time, and even those discovered decades or even centuries ago, such as the giant squid, continue to elude further research to this day.

Details such as the exact habitat and population number of the giant squid remain unknown. However, research suggests that they thrive at depths between 1,000 and 3,000 feet or more beneath the surface.

Because of this, researching the giant squid is exceedingly difficult, requiring specialized equipment to even attempt to reach it. In fact, scientists primarily rely on deceased squids for their research.

“Most museum/research specimens come from the stomach contents of sperm whales or from specimens washed up on beaches and so are in very poor condition and often incomplete,” Jon Ablett, senior curator of mollusks and cephalopods at the Natural History Museum in London, told Newsweek.

With that in mind, the recent discovery of a near-perfectly preserved 10-foot-long giant squid off the coast of the Canary Islands was an unbelievable find.

Preserved Giant Squid Transported to Research Institute for Study

Weighing in at a staggering 440 pounds, the incredible giant squid was found by Teo Lucas, a naturalist and photographer. Lucas then took it to the Spanish Institute of Oceanography for study.

The majority of giant squid are only able to be studied after a sperm whale attack. As such, they’re typically in poor condition at best. This one, however, was almost entirely intact. Even its delicate eyes (the largest of any known animal on Earth) were still in their sockets.

The only missing portion was the tip of a single tentacle. Researchers assume the injury was the result of the attack that killed it.

In an ensuing Facebook post, the Society for the Study of the Cetaceans in the Canary Archipelago (SECAC), shared a fascinating – yet admittedly terrifying – discovery. The 440-pound giant squid was only a juvenile. Adults of the species are far larger.

“Giant squid – scientific name Architeuthis dux – are thought to reach lengths of up to 39 feet,” Jon Ablett explained. “It is thought that the colossal squid, Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, may reach an [even] larger size in terms of mass and possibly also in length than that of the giant squid, although no one has found a fully mature specimen.”