Mr and Mrs Smith's Life Science              Name _____________   Period _____

GiantSquidPic2.bmp (90234 bytes) Giant Squid: Sea Monsters

Giant, menacing sea monsters have been written about for centuries.  Sailors have told fantastic stories of being attacked by monsters with enormous tentacles and huge, black menacing eyes that hypnotized men.

These stories probably originated from sightings of the largest marine invertebrates, the giant squid, Architeutis dux.  The giant squid is a member of the mollusk phylum and is member of the cephalopod class, which includes the octopus and other squids.  Though not as fast as the swordfish, these huge creatures have the ability to jet propel themselves through the water at twenty miles per hour, faster than most sailing ships of the past.  A squid can also launch itself out of the water while moving at high speed, appearing to fly, which would be unnerving to a superstitious sailor on a whaling ship. 

The squid has a large head and a relatively large brain. Its body is spherical or cigar-shaped, with two lateral fins. Around the mouth are eight sucker-bearing arms and two longer contractile tentacles with flat tips. The contractile tentacles are used to seize the prey, which is then held by the shorter tentacles and torn by strong beaklike jaws.

These enormous predators live in the deepest part of the oceans, rarely surfacing, hidden from the view of humans.  A voracious carnivore, a giant squid will eat up to 500 pounds of fish, crab, shark, or any other ocean animal per day.  It grabs its prey with long tentacles and tears it apart with a parrot-like beak.  There are also stories about man-eating giant squid.  In 1941, a British sailor was attacked and dragged off of a life raft in the Atlantic Ocean by huge tentacles, while his shipmates looked on in horror.  But the giant squid is not at the top of the food chain.  It is preyed on by the ocean's largest hunter, the sperm whale.

Until the 1800's, the giant squid was thought to be a legend.  But in 1888, a giant squid 57 feet long washed ashore on a New Zealand beach.  It had tentacles 35 feet long, and its eyes were as large as dinner plates, largest in the animal kingdom -- growing up to 45 centimeters (18 inches) wide.  One captured sperm whale regurgitated two 42 foot long tentacles, meaning the squid they came from was roughly 66 feet long, and weighed 85,000 pounds. GiantSquidPic.bmp (64254 bytes)

In 1997, a scientific expedition was launched to search the deepest oceans of the world for the elusive giant squid.  Deep water manned and unmanned submarines were used to try to find out more about the huge invertebrates.

In 2003, French sailors taking part in the round-the-world Jules Verne Trophy say they came across a giant squid.  "I saw a tentacle through a porthole," Olivier de Kersauson said from his boat. "It was thicker than my leg and it was really pulling the boat hard."  Mr de Kersauson says two of the tentacles were blocking the rudder.  The French sailor says the squid released its grip when he stopped the boat. "We didn't have anything to scare off this beast, so I don't know what we would have done if it hadn't let go," Mr de Kersauson said. "We weren't going to attack it with our penknives."

In 2005, Japanese scientist took the first ever pictures of a giant squid. The animal—which measured roughly 25 feet (8 meters) long—was photographed 2,950 feet (900 meters) beneath the North Pacific Ocean. Japanese scientists attracted the squid toward cameras attached to a baited fishing line. The squid was found feeding at depths where no light penetrates even during the day. The fact that the animal caught on film was swimming in total darkness suggests the species detects prey using alternative light sources.

The scientists say they snapped more than 500 images of the massive cephalopod before it broke free after snagging itself on a hook. They also recovered one of the giant squid's two longest tentacles, measuring 18 feet (5.5 meters) long,  which severed during its struggle.

1. What is the speed of a giant squid? _____________________

2. Name an ocean animal faster than the giant squid. _______________

3. How many pounds of food does a giant squid eat per day? __________

4. Name a predator of the giant squid. ________________

5. How long was the giant squid found in 1888 washed up on a beach? ___________

6. What was used in 1997 to search for giant squid? ________________________

7.  In what year was the first picture of a giant squid taken? ____________

8. The first picture of a giant squid was taken at a depth of ____________ feet.

9. What is the scientific name of the giant squid? _______________________

10. What class does the giant squid belong to? ____________

11.  What phylum does the giant squid belong to? ________________

12. A giant squid has _______ sucker bearing arms and _______ longer contractile tentacles.