The Giant Squid Description

The giant squid (genus: Architeuthis) is a deep-ocean dwelling squid in the family Architeuthidae, represented by as many as eight species. Giant squid are among the largest living organisms. Like all squid, a giant squid has a mantle (torso), eight arms, and two longer tentacles (the longest known tentacles of any cephalopod).

The arms and tentacles account for much of the squid’s great length, making giant squid much lighter than their chief predators, sperm whales.

The most striking feature of the Architheutis duxis its long, torpedo-shaped body, with 10 tentacles, two of which extend longer than the rest. It has a strong beak, similar to a parrot’s and large round eyes, over 30 centimetres (1 ft) in diameter. Giant squid have a sophisticated nervous system and complex brain, attracting great interest from scientists.

Recent estimates put the maximum size at 13 metres (43 ft) for females and 10 metres (33 ft) for males from caudal fin to the tip of the two long tentacles. The mantle is about 2 metres (6.6 ft) long (more for females, less for males), and the length of the squid excluding its tentacles is about 5 metres (16 ft). It is only exceeded in size by the Colossal Squid, Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, which may have a mantle nearly twice as long.

When the cone shaped squid head sticks out of the water with its tentacles deployed, it might look like a serpent head and tail from a distance. Also a single tentacle with a club of suckers on the end might look like the head and neck of a Pleisosaur.

The inside surfaces of the arms and tentacles are lined with hundreds of sub-spherical suction cups, 2 to 5 centimetres (0.79 to 2.0 in) in diameter, each mounted on a stalk. The circumference of these suckers is lined with sharp, finely serrated rings of chitin. The perforation of these teeth and the suction of the cups serve to attach the squid to its prey. It is common to find circular scars from the suckers on or close to the head of sperm whales that have attacked giant squid.

The architheutis lives in the ocean depths ranging from 200 to 1000 meters, as long as the temperature remains below 5 ° C.  When a current like the Gulf Stream drives it in colder waters, it tends to come closer to the surface where the temperature is higher.

Giant squid are very widespread, occurring in all of the world’s oceans. They are usually found near continental and island slopes from the North Atlantic Ocean, especially Newfoundland, Norway, the northern British Isles, and the oceanic islands of the Azores and Madeira, to the South Atlantic around southern Africa, the North Pacific around Japan, and the southwestern Pacific around New Zealand and Australia. Specimens are rare in tropical and polar latitudes.