Colossal squid: Melting ice

Colossal squid: Melting ice

The colossal squid specimen has been slowly thawing overnight. Shortly we will assess how far it has progressed and add another tonne of ice, as the temperature of the water has been creeping up and is above 8 degrees centigrade. We had hoped for a good Wellington southerly with air temperatures around 10-12 degrees, but it’s been rather mild reaching 20 yesterday.

Although the outer edges of the squidcicle are thawed, the central core will still be frozen. The specimen was folded up like an accordian in order to fit it into its container – we cannot begin the delicate task of unfolding the specimen until it is completely thawed, or there is a great risk of breaking it into pieces (like the smaller specimen that we will be examining today).

During the examination of the 200 kg giant squid specimen last evening Dr Kubodera managed to locate the tiny statoliths inside the brain – these are 1-2 mm long and will be used to determine the age of the specimen by counting the growth rings. Statoliths are calcified structures which the squid uses to orientate itself in the water column.

Inspecting the beak. The beak is 200 mm long and capable of slicing fish into pieces small enough to pass down the oesophagus through the brain.

The tentacles of the giant squid were preserved separately in formalin – they were already separated from the specimen. Giant squid tentacles are usually lost in specimens caught in trawls, so we are pleased with these.


  1. now.. we need to keep and care the animals we have..good work to everyone..have a good luck

  2. Ah hmm, sorry for all the fuss but i think it may be mine. Tell me, did it have a squid collar with a name tag reading “Diddly” when first caught?

  3. Are there still concerns that the exterior may be thawing too quickly vis a vis the interior portions? Any plans to slow the thawing a bit with the addition of more ice?

  4. Dear Phil,

    All we have is Sing Lofty Sing, Rest in peace Don Estelle.

  5. Sorry, best of LUCK! I’m tired…

  6. Again, thanks for the fantastic webcast. I wish museums here in London would do amazing things like this.

    They really are fascinating creatures and I wish you the best look with defrosting! You must be really excited about the fact that it’s a whole specimen. I know I am!

  7. “cool” (sorry couldn’t resist) I’m with Phil, thanks for the transmissions very interesting. I’ll be very interested in hearing about the age of the squid and kudos to Dr Kubodera for finding the statoliths in such a large animal! they don’t look too much longer than arrow squid statoliths…are they?

    Good Luck!

  8. Fantastic work and fascinating viewing. Thank you so much for transmitting these webcasts. Still looks fairly frozen seems like you have your work cut out.

    (How about a Neil Diamond soundtrack to accompany the work, eh Steve?)

    Best of luck!

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