NZ Colossal squid put on ice

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Technicians in New Zealand have postponed until Monday the delicate process of defrosting a colossal squid caught in Antarctic waters last year.

Having removed the creature from the freezer on Sunday, the team realised it would defrost too early for a planned examination by scientists on Wednesday.

The half-tonne 10m-long squid is now back in the freezer, still wrapped in the fishing net in which it was caught.

The eventual thawing and dissection will feature in a live webcast.

The Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni specimen was caught in February 2007 in Antarctic waters.

Big unknown

The riddle for technicians at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa centre has been how to thaw the squid without any parts of its body starting to rot.

The colossal squid is remarkable for its size, but also for how rarely it has been sighted.

It was identified first in 1925 from two tentacles found in a sperm whale’s stomach.

These deep-diving toothed whales regularly do battle with Mesonychoteuthis and other giant cephalopods such as the giant squid of the Architeuthis genus.

Since 1925, only a few Mesonychoteuthis have been sighted, all in the seas around Antarctica.

Very little is known about how and where they live. The one certainty is that they are fearsome opponents, with big beaks and unique swivelling hooks on the club-like ends of their tentacles.

One of the first tasks is likely to be ascertaining the squid’s gender.

This one is believed to be male; and females are thought to grow larger than males.

So if this one is a he, presumably there are even bigger and heavier shes somewhere in the cold Antarctic waters.

Later in the week, scientists are expected to give public lectures about their initial results.

Once thawed and examined, the squid will be embalmed and preserved.

Source bbc.co.uk