Giant Squids: Find out about their characteristics and much more

Through this article you will learn all about the mysterious world of the giant squids, the largest of this species,; an animal full of extraordinary peculiarities that lives in the depths of all the oceans of the planet.

This great and extraordinary marine animal, has been to this day one of the most striking of its kind. It  has caught the interest of many  researchers and marine biologists;  who have carried out  several studies about this creature, who belongs to the  Architeuthis genus.

Several means of investigation have been developed  around all the oceans;with the purpose of unveiling all the mysteries that surround the giant squids .

Characteristics Of  The Giant Squids

The giant squid is one of the largest species that inhabit the oceans. The peculiarities of their bodies and behavior;  have aroused   the interest in its study through the years, with more emphasis than in any other squid.

The Giant Squid is part of a small group of invertebrate species ;in which  eight individuals have been fully identified.

They are very similar to other squids, especially because they have two tentacles and eight arms; as well as their protective mantle.Giant Squids :Bidirectional Transport in the Squid Giant Axon

There are still  many unknown  aspects about the giant squids; which are being studied in order to learn more about them.

The giant squid is considered one of the largest of its kind,; and he is only surpassed by the colossal squid. In fact , several specialist assert  , that the colossal squid only exceeds  the giant in length but not in mass.

These  specimen are  extremely large , and  they are known by having long arms and tentacles. The giant squids in juvenile age are usually established in surface waters of New Zealand, where  several means have been established,  to carry out researches in the different areas of life of this species.

The arms of these invertebrate animals have suckers, which they use to swallow and perforate their prey until they are devoured.

The giant squid also has a particular form of growth of five centimeters a day, which is the main reason  of its big size .

The  visual capacity of these creatures is quite pronounced, which is not common in invertebrate animals.

Size and Weight

There are many limitations to speak accurately about the size and weight of the giant squids, since most of them live in the deep waters of all the oceans.  However, there are several data that have been collected, from the specimens that have been captured.

In terms of size, it ranges between 10 and 14  meters in length, almost always both the female and the male have the same measure,. It is estimated that there are giant squid more than 20 meters long, but the biggest one ever captured  had 13  meters in length.

Regarding its weight , the males reach up 149 kilograms  and females approximately 276 kilograms , which means there is sexual dimorphism in these invertebrate animals.

In the same way , there are current references on a specimen that came to weigh about 900 Kilograms.

Let´s keep learning about them




The eyes of the Giant Squids

This is one of the most striking and terrifying  aspects of this marine animal,  since they are large  and they look as if they were leaving from the orbits.  They reach up to 30 centimeters in diameter, and they are comprised by  an iris, pupil and cornea; which comply  a quite useful  recognition function in the depths of the ocean.

This feature allows the giant squids,  to reach the darkest places of the ocean,  where almost no other   marine animal can arrive. So, they are able to get their food in these places without any inconvenience .

It is believed that despite their large eyes,   they can´t appreciate the colors closely, however they  can detect  the different tonalities  of different objects or creatures.

The mouth of the Giant Squids

This creature  has a radula, which is characteristic of this species of mollusks, as well as a beak which he  employs  to crush  and drag  his  food until he  eats  it.  ,

This radula is formed  by a succession of chitinous  teeth that are longitudinally profiled. Moreover, they employ  both tentacles, to capture their prey up to a distance of more than 12 meters.

Life Expectancy Of the Giant Squids

Unlike  most squids species, which live between one and two years; this giant animal can exceed five years of life in the depths of the sea, without being captured by its predators. However, they only   reproduce once throughout their lives.

Behavior

The giant squids are usually  harmless,  as long as they are  not attacked or persecuted. There are thousands of anecdotes about this animal, where it is labeled as dangerous, something that has been practically denied through the investigations that have been carried out to date.

In addition, they are also characterized by being lonely creatures, which only  search for company at the time of mating.

Habitat

This marine animal is scattered throughout the world’s oceans, even though they are mostly observed in specific areas such as the marine waters of New Zealand, in the North of Japan, in the Atlantic Ocean, around the waters of Canada, in addition to the British Isles. They are hardly observed in polar or tropical waters.

The giant squid can remain without problems at a thousand meters depths.

It is  difficult to see them on marine surfaces;  except on certain occasions. Their  habitat is undoubtedly , the  dark depths of the oceans,  which are inaccessible for their predators. Moreover, these giant animals love to stay in cold water.
Since, they are scattered  throughout the oceans of the world, it is difficult to accurately quantify their population, due to the complicated access in which these giant squids are located.

However, according to  several evidences, it is believed that there is a broad population of these squids, which are not seriously   threatened by any predator within  their habitat ,excepting the sperm whales   which is their main enemy .

In this case it can be deduced that there are no threats against this giant animal,.

Now let´s keep learning about their habitat




Displacement

Giant squids can make several trips using specific organs, such as their siphons and  the fins  located on their mantles , which function as stabilizers. This process resembles a jet-propulsion  function.

These animals can float very easily within their habitat, however outside the water they are extremely heavy. This is caused by the content of ions with large proportions of ammonium located in their muscles.

This fact makes better the fluidity of their  bodies within their habitat, since these ions are in reference lighter than the sea water itself. This characteristic helps  them in a great way to stay with a lot of energy.

As a strange and surprising fact , this content of ammonium is totally harmful for other species, so they  discard  it through urea.

However, the giant squids  have  a unique system,  which allows them to maintain  large amounts of this element in their bodies, without causing any type of damage. Therefore these  squid is not recommended for human consumption due to the high content of this toxic substance.

Alimentation Habits of the Giant Squids:

Like most squids species, the giant squids bases their diet on fish that inhabit the depths, including shrimps and other squid species.

The most important thing, is that they have the necessary tools to catch their food.  Their two strengthened tentacles, allow them  to catch a prey , that is at a distance of more than ten meters. Their feeding habits are little known, but they are possibly nourished of varieties of deep-sea fish, and the others species previously mentioned.

The giant squid are considered predators, their tentacles are equipped with suckers provided with rings as a species of teeth very similar to a saw,  which they  use to secure their prey.

Reproduction Of  The Giant Squids

As everything related to this species is a mystery, their reproduction is also a mystery ,  and most of the characteristics of this process are totally unknown. Because  of its permanence in the depths of the oceans, it has been difficult to carry out the proper researches..

However it is known that the form of reproduction of this squid  performed in the water, where the male employs a set of glands which generate the spermatophores.

It is not easy for the male to find a female, but when he does it  he transfers the spermatophores to her in a coat of  her mantle, until it penetrates her body.

It is believed that  after copulation, huge amounts of eggs are created  inside the female´s body,  which  she later lays into the ocean waters, these are protected by a gelatinous mass.  Many of these eggs are devoured by marine predators,  and those who manage to survive  complete their  cycle  until a baby squid in born.

In any case, the  fertilization way of the eggs is still unknown.

These species of giant squid come to reproduce only once in their life, as it has a short life of only five years.

It is only known with certainty that the eggs are fertilized by the male, once the young are born they  take care of themselves.

Within the mysteries that surround the giant squids  is the way to  determine their age, which is done through the ear cavity, where the statolites are located

These organs  which perform balance functions, are formed by rings that are counted to know through them the age of the squid.

The reproduction, develop and growth the giant squids is quite hard, because of the constraints  impose   by their deep habitats. However,  they are carried over due to the large number of eggs scattered on all sides and that come to hatch before being devoured.

The  estimated  amount of eggs laid by the females, ranges between one million up to 12 million, but the specific characteristics of the fertilization method, are totally unknown.

The giant squids, are different from other species because they have a reproductive system different from other cephalopods, which is comprised by a copulative organ or penis,  that reaches 90 centimeters in length.

In any case, the male squid has a genital apparatus that can be fully observed, but it is unknown when the  insemination of the sperm and the fertilization of the eggs, take place.

Threats

The giant squid is one of the species that usually does not run any risk, even when the magnitude of the existing population is unknown, it is presumed that they are not in danger of extinction.  They are carnivorous animals and their most fearsome predator,  is the sperm whale.

Their big size and anatomical conditions, make of them less vulnerable to threats from predators and man himself,  since  the meat of this species is not suitable for human consumption.

The sperm whale, is considered their main threat  since remains of giant squid beaks , have been found undigested  in in their stomachs.

However, it is presumed that in these battles,  it is the sperm whale who has the advantage  and probabilities to win.  There are references regarding  the particular likes and preferences of the sperm whales,  to feed on squids

There are not records of fights between the giant squid and a sperm whale,  however marks of the  dental rings of the squid, have been found on several sperm whales

Conservation

In the current times, several researches and  have taken the decision to protect squids from fishermen and large trading companies in Japan. However, it is an effort that is being carried out by activists and not by competent organizations, because it is thought that they are not at risk.

For all the above we can say that the giant squid is not an animal at risk, because due to its structure and anatomy,  they  have few predators and are not affected by the activities carried out by man.

Finally ,  it is very important that we all become aware   of the importance of conserving the environment, avoiding any type of pollution that we generate.

The  Giant Squids  And The Human Beings

As everything related to this invertebrate animal, the information in this matter  is scarce and lacks  of documentation.  However, the number of people interested in studying this species  grows  every  day.

Something that is totally clarified;  is that it does not cause any harm to  human beings.

Until 2001, most of the information related to this species, came from examinations  of the dead bodies of specimens floating at sea .

A giant squid was captured, and its body was   preserved intact  for further studies, this animal was transported frozen to England.

Some studies were carried out on its anatomy and structure; keeping its body in good conditions to make an exhibition of this specimen which measures nine meters in length. It  is currently in the Natural History Museum, at the Darwin Center.

There are some records about events that occurred in the life of this large invertebrate animal. In 2005, more than one hundred thousand dollars were paid, for the intact body of this animal by the Melbourne Aquarium in Australia, which was captured and preserved in an ice block by fishermen off the coast of New Zealand.

What has been seen in recent years,  is that efforts have been made to conduct studies and investigations of the giant squid, in fact many pictures of these species have been taken in several episodes of his life.

Most of all these  researches  has been done by a competent team from the National Museum of Science in Tokyo, by a group of Japanese researchers.

They looked for a way to get to them through the sperm whales, knowing that this is the most common predator of the giant squids. When they were  following the course of these predators;   they found a school of giant squid being able to photograph them in different episodes.

This group of Japanese researchers chose to place a camera attached to a rope,  deep in the Ogasawara Island, located in the Pacific Ocean. This was not a simple procedure, it took a long time to follow up on this species of squid.

A  rope containing a bait,  of a composition of squid and shrimp, was employed ;  attaching a camera to it. Then they waited for the  appearance of the giant squid.

It was not if not on September 30, 2005 that the first photos of a live giant squid were taken.  In its struggle to get rid of the  rope, this animal lost one of its tentacles, which had a measure 6 centimeters in length.

This fact was of great relevance for many researchers who had tried on many occasions, at least to photograph the giant squid.

The interesting thing for this team of Japaneese, is that they had already detected the precise place where these animals gather to feed, in this way they insisted on the search for new shots, in their own habitat.

It was in 2006,  that this team achieved the feat  of capturing and filming a huge giant squid. This task was lideralized by Tsunemi Kubodera  and the species captured was of the species Architeuthis dux,

The pictures and recordings    were just spectacular . and  they  toured the world in few time.

In addition to these actions,  there are other statements  such as the capture of a giant squid female with a weight of fifty kilograms and a length of four meters. This was  a medium-sized specimen compared to previous giant squid encounters,  that reached more than twenty meters and weigh more than two hundred and seventy kilograms.

 In any case, there is a record of more than six hundred known specimens of giant squid, which is in full increase, since the  activist never stop making investigations. Most of them are of Japanese origin, those who have dedicated to the study of this invertebrate animal.

The search for giant live squids has intensified, especially the one focused in the capture of juvenile specimens, in order to keep them in captivity

Culture And Giants Squids

This species of squid despite all the difficulty of their investigations, has been the subject of illustrations , as is the case of the original edition of 20 Thousand Leagues of  Submarine travel, which  has an illustration of a Giant Squid on the main cover.

The giant squid has been marking an important appearance within the media and culture, participating in many stories, some of them based on the imagination of the spectator.

In recent times,  a very shocking image has gone around the world, of a  giant squid capturing with its strong and long tentacles a sperm whale, which is a true assembly , since so far it is known that is the sperm whale who devours the squid.

This giant animal, due to its quiet character and solitary behavior, has been shown through different medias  as a frightening animal.  These ideas were advancing through time, when the first legends of these appeared on the writings of Moby-Dick, the legend, 20 thousand leagues of submarine travel, Berhard Kegel’s Red.

The giant squid is shown through photographs, series and attractive videos, showing the size of this extraordinary mollusk alive.

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