List of colossal squid specimens and sightings

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This list of colossal squid specimens and sightings is a listing of recorded specimens of Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, popularly known as the colossal squid.

Number of specimens[edit]

According to Xavier et al. (1999), geographical positions for 188 Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni specimens caught by commercial and scientific fisheries were known as of 1999.

List of colossal squid[edit]

Records are listed chronologically in descending order and numbered accordingly.

  • Date – Date on which the specimen was first captured, found, or observed. In cases where this is unknown, the date the specimen was first reported is listed instead.
  • Location – Area where the specimen was found. Given as it appears in the cited references, except where additional information is provided in brackets.
  • Oceanic sector – The quadrant of a major ocean in which the specimen was found (see Oceanic sectors).
  • Method of capture – Method by which the specimen was recovered or observed. Given as it appears in the cited references, although "washed ashore" encompasses all stranded animals.
  • Identification – Species or genus level taxon to which the specimen was originally assigned. Given as it appears in the cited references. Listed chronologically if specimen was re-identified.
  • Material cited – Original specimen material that was recovered or observed.
  • Material saved – Material that was kept after examination and not discarded (if any).
  • Sex – Sex and sexual maturity of the specimen.
  • Size and measurements – Data relating to measurements and counts. Abbreviations used are based on standardised acronyms in teuthology (see Measurements), with the exception of several found in older references.
  • Repository – Institution in which the specimen material is kept. The acronyms used are those defined by Leviton et al. (1985) and Leviton & Gibbs (1988) (see Repositories). Where the acronym is unknown, the full repository name is listed.
  • Cited references – Sources that provide specific data on a particular specimen.
  • Additional references – Sources which merely refer to the specimen.
  • Notes – Miscellaneous information.

Note: Names of anatomical features are retained from original sources (e.g. jaws may be given instead of the preferred beak).

# Date Location Oceanic sector Method of capture Identification Material cited Material saved Sex Size and measurements Repository Cited references Additional references Notes
1 1925 From sperm whale stomach Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Robson, 1925 Two arm (brachial) crowns Robson (1925:272)
1956/1957 South Orkney Islands (59°41'S, 44°14'W) SWA From sperm whale stomach Architeuthis sp.; Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Robson, 1925 Head and mantle Undetermined HL: 30 cm; HW: 20 cm; ED: 16–17 cm; WL?: ~12 m Korabelnikov (1959:103); Yukhov (1974:62) Initial identification by I.I. Akimushkin. From 15.8 m long male sperm whale.
1956/1957 South Shetland Islands (61°56'S, 52°39'W) SWA From sperm whale stomach Architeuthis sp.; Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Robson, 1925 Fin only Undetermined FL: 41 cm; FW: 48 cm; WL?: ~10 m Korabelnikov (1959:103); Yukhov (1974:62) Initial identification by I.I. Akimushkin. From 15 m long male sperm whale.
1970 (reported) Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Entire Entire? ML: 86 mm McSweeny (1970) Voss (1980:395, fig. 10b); Clarke (1986:199) Juvenile specimen. Upper and lower beaks described and illustrated.
1975 (reported) Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni "large specimen"; ML unknown Klumov & Yukhov (1975) Clarke (1986:199) Upper and lower beaks described and illustrated.
1980 (reported) Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Entire Entire? Female (subadult) ML: 1250 mm Voss (1980)
1980 (reported) Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Entire Entire? ML: 23 mm Voss (1980:395, fig. 10c) Advanced paralarva.
1980 (reported) Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Two partial specimens; brachial crowns Entire NMNH Voss (1980)
1981 off Dronning Maud Land, Antarctic at 750–770 m depth By trawl Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Entire Female (immature) ML: 2.42 m; EL?: 5.1 m [1] Ellis (1998:147) Caught by Soviet trawler Eureka (Эврика). Photographed by Alexander Remeslo.
1985 (reported) at 2000–2200 m depth Trawled in opening-closing net (RMT8) Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Entire? ML: 1.05 m Rodhouse & Clarke (1985)
1986 (reported) (47°51'S 40°01'W, WH 101 I/76) Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Lower beak Entire? Female (juvenile) LRL: 7.10 mm; ML: 225.0 mm Clarke (1986:200, fig. A)
1986 (reported) S. Georgia From sperm whale stomach Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Lower beak Entire? LRL: 13.50 mm Clarke (1986:200, fig. B)
1986 (reported) S. Georgia From sperm whale stomach Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Lower beak Entire? LRL: 20.40 mm Clarke (1986:200, fig. C)
March 2003 Ross Sea Found floating on surface Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Entire; recovered in three pieces, later reassembled Entire Female (subadult) ML: ~2.5 m; WL: ~5.4 m; LRL: 37 mm; WT: ~300 kg Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Numerous media sources
2004 (reported) "in upper slope waters of the Kerguelen Archipelago" From stomach contents of 22 sleeper sharks (Somniosus pacificus) Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni 89 beaks; 42 lower, 47 upper (minimum number of individuals: 49) Entire LRL: 10.1–38.8 mm; LRL(average): 22.3 mm ±7.2; ML(estimate): 61–237 cm; ML(average): 136 cm ±44; WT(estimate): 2.1–91.2 kg; WT(average): 24.4 kg ±22.1 Cherel & Duhamel (2004) M. hamiltoni beaks were found in 61.1% (22/36) of sleeper sharks examined. Beaks of this species accounted for 16.1% (89/553) of total recovered cephalopod beaks. M. hamiltoni accounted for 52.0% (1133621/2180535 g) of total reconstituted cephalopod biomass.
25 June 2005 "South Georgia waters" at 1625 m depth Caught alive by long-lining fishing vessel; "caught on a number of hooks on a longline" set to target Patagonian toothfish Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Entire; alive Head with tentacles and arms; mantle too heavy to bring aboard WL(estimate): ~5 m; WT (estimate): 150–200 kg South Georgia Newsletter June 2005 Caught by longliner Isla Santa Clara. Five men, including the ship's scientific observer, attempted to bring the squid aboard. Paul McCarthy, the scientific observer, estimated the length and weight of the squid. Specimen was sent to King Edward Point (KEP) Scientists for formal identification. Two images taken by Ramon Ferreira Gomez.
8 January 2007 "near the Ross Ice Shelf" SWP Caught by long-lining fishing vessel targeting Patagonian toothfish Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Entire; alive None? ML(estimate?): 12–14 ft [2], [3] First recorded sighting of a mature colossal squid. Photographed alive in the water holding onto a Patagonian toothfish.
"early February" (captured); 22 February 2007 (reported) "in the Ross Sea" SWP Caught by New Zealand (Sanford Ltd.) vessel San Aspiring while fishing for Antarctic toothfish Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Entire; alive Entire Female EL(initial estimate): 10 m; EL(after thawing): 4.2 m; ML: ~2.5 m; LRL: 41 mm; EyD(estimate): 30–40 cm; EyD(after thawing): 27 cm; LD: 12 cm; WT: 495 kg Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Anderton (2007); [Anonymous] (2007a); Griggs (2007); [Anonymous] (2007b); Black (2008); Atkinson (2008b) Numerous media sources and website First mature specimen ever recovered and largest extant cephalopod scientifically documented. Weight initially estimated at 450 kg. Tentacles and eyes shrunk considerably post mortem.
28 May 2007 (reported) New Zealand? SWP From a research cruise Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Two tentacles ML(estimate): 2 m [4]
20 March 2008 (reported) Ross Sea SWP Caught by New Zealand research vessel Tangaroa "colossal squid" Several specimens Juvenile Atkinson (2008a)
2009 (reported) Kerguelen waters SIO Found in stomach contents of sleeper shark (Somniosus sp.) Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Lower beak Entire (adult) LRL: 23.6 mm Xavier & Cherel (2009:55, fig. 10)
2009 (reported) Kerguelen waters SIO Found in stomach contents of sleeper shark (Somniosus sp.) Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Lower beak Entire (juvenile) LRL: 10.4 mm Xavier & Cherel (2009:56, fig. 10)
2009 (reported) Kerguelen waters SIO Found in stomach contents of sleeper shark (Somniosus sp.) Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Upper beak Entire URL: 27.7 mm Xavier & Cherel (2009:86, fig. 10)
2 April 2012 (reported; found in previous week) off Portland, Victoria, Australia SWP Found floating at surface, dead "colossal type [squid]" Entire? ML?("body"): ~2 m; MW?: ~1 m; WT: 120 kg Collins (2012) Found by local fisherman and boat operator Bob McPherson while fishing for tuna in waters 700 m deep.
2014 Ross Sea at 1200–1800 m depth SWP Caught by New Zealand (Sanford Ltd.) vessel San Aspiring while fishing for Patagonian toothfish "colossal squid" Entire Entire Female EL: 3.5 m; WT: 350 kg; EyD: 35 cm Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Farquhar (2014) Dissected on 16 September 2014 (eye lens and buccal mass removed); caught "a couple of months" earlier. Dissection led by Kat Bolstad and carried out by staff of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa with help of Auckland University of Technology. Dissection was live streamed over YouTube for 3.5 hours.

Abbreviations[edit]

The following abbreviations are used in the List of colossal squid table.

Oceanic sectors[edit]

M. hamiltoni has a circumpolar Antarctic distribution.

  • SWA, Southwest Atlantic Ocean
  • SEA, Southeast Atlantic Ocean
  • SWP, Southwest Pacific Ocean
  • SEP, Southeast Pacific Ocean
  • SIO, Southern Indian Ocean

Measurements[edit]

Abbreviations used for measurements and counts are based on standardised acronyms in teuthology, primarily those defined by Roper & Voss (1983), with the exception of several found in older references.

  • ED, egg diameter
  • EL, "entire" length (end of tentacle(s), often stretched, to posterior tip of tail; in contrast to WL, measured from end of arms to posterior tip of tail)
  • EyD, eye diameter
  • FL, fin length
  • FW, fin width
  • HL, head length (most often base of arms to edge of mantle)
  • HW, head width
  • LD, lens diameter
  • LRL, lower rostral length of beak
  • ML, mantle length (used only where stated as such)
  • MW, maximum mantle width (used only where stated as such)
  • WL, "whole" length (end of arms, often damaged, to posterior tip of tail; in contrast to EL, measured from end of tentacles to posterior tip of tail)
  • WT, weight

Repositories[edit]

Institutional acronyms are those defined by Leviton et al. (1985) and Leviton & Gibbs (1988). Where the acronym is unknown, the full repository name is listed.

Images[edit]

The number directly below each image corresponds to the specimen or sighting, in the List of colossal squid, that the image depicts. The date on which the specimen was first captured, found, or observed is also given.

References[edit]

The following references are cited in the List of colossal squid table.