How do giant squids fight sharks

Giant squids

Material for myths and legends

As early as 55 AD, the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder wrote of a "polyp" with huge eyes, the arms of which look like "knotted clubs". 1500 years later, the Swedish clergyman Olaus Magnus reported a "monstrous fish" that can pull ships into the depths.

The octopuses have even made it into world literature: In Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" (1851), Captain Ahab's crew sighted a huge marine animal that they initially mistook for the white whale. The animal dives again and they come to the conclusion that they have seen the "real big octopus".

In Jules Verne's novel "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" from 1870, Captain Nemo and his crew have to fight several giant squids.

Like many legends, the stories about the giant octopus are based on clues that are packed into gruesome stories and passed on. In fact, fishermen had seen huge tentacles and other indefinable pieces of carcass on beaches. Whalers had also noticed that the stomach of their prey contained parts of oversized tentacles. Some whales also had scars, apparently from giant suckers.

Until the middle of the 19th century, scientists referred these finds and stories to the realm of fairy tales. That changed when the Danish scientist Japetus Steenstrup examined the washed-up parts of a giant squid in 1857. He also had the honor of giving the giant his scientific name: Architheutis, which means something like original squid.

Meanwhile, tentacles and other body parts by Architheutis have surfaced mainly around New Zealand. You have always found what you are looking for in the stomachs of sperm whales.

The suction cup marks on the bodies of the sperm whales can now also be explained: They fight deep down with giant squids, which apparently make up a large part of their food. Up until a few years ago, however, no one had seen a living specimen by Architheutis.

The giant squid Architheutis

Various research teams have been trying to discover living giant squids for decades. Curious but true: the largest known invertebrates in the world are extremely difficult to find.

It was not until 2004 that Japanese researchers succeeded in taking pictures of a living giant squid with a remote-controlled camera. But they couldn't catch the giant. A year later, the same scientists even managed to video record an architheutis in its natural habitat.

In the stories of the seafarers, the distinction between octopus and squid was not taken so strictly. The mysterious giants from the depths are not octopuses, but squids. Octopuses only have eight arms, squids also have two longer tentacles, for a total of ten. The giant octopus, on the other hand, usually has an arm length of only two meters.

Architheutis have already examined specimens with ten-meter-long tentacles. However, there are discrepancies among researchers when determining the length of the tentacles, since the tentacles of a giant squid are extremely flexible. Everyone agrees that Architheutis has the largest eyes in the animal kingdom with a diameter of up to 40 centimeters.

Very little is known about the way of life of the giant squid. Stomach examinations of dead specimens have shown that they feed on fish and other squids. The few observations of live animals have shown that Architheutis is an aggressive hunter. The fact that he has sunk entire ships, however, falls into the category of seaman's thread.