Giant squid washes up in Australia

SYDNEY, Reuters

A giant squid with tentacles measuring at least 15 meters has washed up on a southern Australian beach, exciting scientists who believe they may have stumbled across a new species.

The monster cephalopod washed up on Seven Mile Beach in the southern island state of Tasmania some time at the weekend. The squid, which weighs about 250 kg (550 pounds), was hauled by trailer to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery on Monday.

“It’s definitely of the giant squid group, which is exciting enough,” David Pemberton, the museum’s senior zoology curator, told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio.

“But it does have some features about it which we’re unsure about and we’ve called some specialists…to help decide, but it looks like it could be different,” he said.

Pemberton said the most intriguing features were long, thin flaps of muscle attached to each of the eight tentacles, which measured between 15 meters and 18 meters. Giant squid also have two smaller feeding tentacles.

Only two other of the rare giant squid have been found in Tasmania, in 1986 and 1991. They usually live on the edge of the continental shelf off Australia’s coast at depths of at least 500 meters.

Giant squid are found in all the oceans of the world and are believed to be the origin of many ancient maritime legends about mysterious creatures from the deep.

They have also featured in great works of fiction like Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” and Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.”

But Pemberton said there was no chance of the Tasmanian discovery ending up as a massive serve of calamari because its high ammonia content meant it would most likely taste like floor cleaner.