Giant squid found washing up on beach with beak the size of a fist

A rarely seen giant squid, which is usually found deep below the ocean’s surface, has been discovered dead on a beach in Cape Town, South Africa, just months after another washed up six miles away.

Tim Dee stumbled across the carcass on Scarborough Beach near the Cape of Good Hope on Tuesday. Dee shared pictures and a video of the giant creature on social mediashowing the squid’s characteristic huge eye.

“Giant squid species destroyed on Scarborough beach this morning,” he wrote. “What’s that to you, Moby Dick?”

His video shows a marine biologist examining the carcass while stripping back flesh to reveal the squid’s beak, which it uses to hunt and eat. The beak is about the size of the scientist’s fist.

Live giant squid are rarely seen outside of the depths: they spend most of their time between 980 and 3,280 feet below the ocean’s surface. The first time the elusive species was filmed alive was in 2006 off the Ogasawara Islands in Japan.

Their true distribution around the world is unknown due to the scarcity of live sightings, but their carcasses have been found washed up all over the world.

This combination image features a stock illustration of an octopus (left) and a archival photo of a giant squid on display at Wellington Harbor and caught off the coast of New Zealand.

“It’s not uncommon for a giant squid to wash up, but it’s not a daily occurrence,” Cape Town Coastal Manager Gregg Oelofse told News24. “The last one washed up at Kommetjie about seven months ago.

The previous squid was found just a few miles offshore and was in much worse condition compared to the one found this week. Fishermen had grabbed the eyes, beak and tentacles, leaving only the fleshy body, according to Cape of Good Hope SPCA spokesman Jon Friedman. Samples were taken from the remains before the creature was thrown back into the sea.

Giant squid, as well as giant squid, their larger cousin, are the largest of all cephalopods. Giant squid like the one that washed up in Cape Town can grow up to 43 feet.

Like other cephalopods, giant squid have eight arms and two additional fanged tentacles coated with large suction cups, between 1 and 2 inches in diameter. It is believed that these suction cups help the squid to latch on to its prey and draw it towards its sharp beak in the middle of its arms. This beak then cuts the prey into bite-sized pieces, which are further broken down by a tongue-like organ called the radula inside the beak.

The giant squid has the largest eyes in the animal kingdom, which according to National Geographic, measuring up to 10 inches in diameter. (The average plate is about the same size.) Eyes this size are thought to have evolved to help squid capture wisps of light, or bioluminescence, in their deep-sea home.

Because of their size and the depth of their habitat, they have few enemies. However, they are a popular prey for sperm whales and are often found in the stomachs of pilot whales, southern sleeper sharks and the occasional killer whale.

Samples taken from the Scarborough carcass will be collected and taken to the Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town for examination. Giant squid found washing up on beach with beak the size of a fist

Rick Schindler

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