New Zealand fishermen may have caught the largest Colossal squid ever found - weighing around 450kg and with rings the size of tyres.
|The adult male Colossal squid, found in Antarctic|
waters, is the first ever landed [Reuters]
The adult Colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) was caught by fishermen long lining for toothfish in deep ocean off Antarctica.
The announcement of the catch was made by Jim Anderton, New Zealand's fisheries minister.
The squid was still alive when caught and was eating a hooked toothfish when hauled aboard, Anderton said in a statement.
"The squid was almost dead when it reached the surface, and the careful work of the crew was paramount in getting this specimen aboard in good condition," he said
"The crew stopped winching in the longline for two hours, while the squid was manoeuvred into a cargo net and hauled aboard."
The squid was frozen in the ship's hull and brought back to New Zealand for scientific examination.
Anderton said: "The colossal squid has just arrived in New Zealand and it is likely that it is the first intact adult male Colossal squid to ever be successfully landed."
Colossal squid grow up to 12 to 14 metres in length.
Anderton said the squid would be photographed, measured, tissue sampled, registered and preserved intact.
He said: "On-going examination of this giant will help to unlock some of the mysteries of the deep ocean. Even basic questions such as how large does this species grow to, and how long does it live for are not yet known."
|The squid was frozen in the ship's hull for study|
and will be preserved intact [Reuters]
Local media said early estimates put the squid at 10 metres in length and weighing 450kg - 150kg heavier than the next biggest specimen found.
Steve O'Shea, a squid expert at Auckland University of Technology, said: "I can assure you that this is going to draw phenomenal interest. It is truly amazing."
O'Shea said if calamari were made from the Colossal squid's rings it would be the size of tractor tyres.
Anderton said Colossal squid were found in Antarctic waters and were not related to Giant squid (Architeuthis) found around the coast of New Zealand. Giant squid also grow up to 12 metres, but are not as heavy.