That colossal squid

February 24, 2007

The New Zealand media has been celebrating the capture of the first intact adult male colossal squid in Antarctic waters. The squid weighs over 450kg, and is the largest ever caught.


What intrigues me about this story is not the squid itself, but the way in which it was caught and the manner in which it has been reported. It was caught on a long line, by a trawler fishing for Antarctic toothfish. While long lines are less environmentally damaging than bottom trawling or dredging, it is controversial. Long lines have been very successful commercially, and are major contributors to the problems of over fishing. They also generate significant amounts of by-catch. In other words they catch albatross (nearing extinction) and other seabirds, turtles, non-targeted fish, and now colossal squid.

However despite all the hype about this “rare monster” of the deep, I have not seen any comment in the media about the long lines. No connection appears to have been made between the capture of the squid and the problems associated with by-catch. Just pictures of a smug fisherman and comments from excited researchers. Ignorance? Arrogance?? I’m no expert but there seems to be a problem here.

3 Responses to “That colossal squid”

  1. Verdurous Says:

    You’re spot on. There’s something very 19th century about the photos of hunters with their catch. Use of the phrase “monster of the deep” is disturbing. I wonder if the thought occured to let the poor bloody thing go. The crew apparently felt that it was unlikely to survive if released. Well they would think that wouldn’t they?

  2. Sharon Says:

    Thanks for your comment Verdurous. I agree, the whole story is disturbing. As you say, the Squid was apparently near death when the pulled it up, but I wonder if it was that way when originally caught. I suspect the whole process of being caught and dragged to the surface probably had a lot to do with it’s condition!

  3. tepapamuseum Says:

    But this catch will also help us know more about the habits and biology of this species. If you are interested in this colossal squid, Te Papa currently hosts it. It will be dissected together with 4 giant and another colossal squid starting Monday 28 April. The dissection will be broadcasted live. More info can be found on our website: and of course, on our blog 🙂

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