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.