Is it a boy? Te Papa gets new colossal squid

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

A colossal squid fished up in the Ross Sea in 2007 was then the largest found anywhere in the world. Photo / File
A colossal squid fished up in the Ross Sea in 2007 was then the largest found anywhere in the world. Photo / File

Scientists at the Te Papa museum are hoping a colossal squid now in their possession is a male - making an already rare find an extraordinary one.

The rare sea creature was found by a fishing vessel in Antarctica's Ross Sea, over the summer.

The fishing crew put the squid on ice and it was brought to New Zealand, where it has been kept in a freezer at Te Papa, in Wellington, for the past few weeks.

This is only the second full-bodied colossal squid found in the world and, like a previous one found in 2007, it will be examined and housed at the museum.

Senior curator of sciences Dr Susan Waugh said the creature would be thawed at a special event next month and the museum hoped it was the rare male specimen.

"Globally, there's only the two specimens [both at Te Papa] which are whole.

"There are a number of other specimens in museums internationally, but they're all just pieces of the squid.

"So there's a really unique opportunity to see how the whole animal is composed and looking at differences between the different individuals that we've got," Dr Waugh said.

"We don't know which sex this one is, but there's never been a large male found before.

We don't even know what kind of shape and form they are, really. So there's heaps of just plain biological discoveries still need to be done on these species, just because they're so rare."

The specimen found in 2007 was initially thought to be a male but was later found to be a female. It weighed 495kg.

That colossal squid remains on display at the museum and continues to be its most popular exhibit.

The squid recently found is thought to be a bit smaller in comparison.

Specialist researches will be brought in to help with the examination and processing of the creature.

Dr Waugh said such a find helped to get people excited about science and discovery.

"It's a great moment of discovery. It's science happening first hand - you can really see discovery taking place and that's what we're all really excited about."

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 28 Dec 2014 17:11:55 Processing Time: 203ms