NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 22 (UPI) — A giant squid has been netted in the Gulf of Mexico, the first of its kind to be landed in 55 years, scientists say.
U.S. government scientists caught the 20-foot-long, 103-pound giant squid while trawling 1,500 feet down, the Houston Chronicle reported.
“This was beyond everyone’s expectations,” said Deborah Epperson, a U.S. Minerals Management Service biologist.
The recent catch, off the Louisiana coast, marks the first giant squid found in the gulf since a dead one turned up on the surface in 1954. The latest catch had been alive but died as it was being brought to the surface because the squid cannot survive such quick changes in water depth.
The scientists had been trawling in the waters as part of an effort to identify the types of fish and squid sperm whales feed on.
The giant squid has been sent to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, where scientists will study it, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported.
Giant squid can grow as long as 40 feet. Much about them remains a mystery to scientists, who don’t know whether the Gulf catch is a full-grown adult.
The giant squid feed on other species of squid and smaller fish, scientists believe. The giant squid has only one known predator, the sperm whale.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International