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Saturday, September 27, 2014

HOW REALLY BIG DOES A CALAMARO GET?


Thought I'd begin with a micro squid (above, only 0.4 inch long), known in Italy and much of the cuisine world as calamari (singular should be calamaro).  Squids are unusual beasts with three hearts and the largest eye (10 inches in diameter so it can see better at the dark depths--no, not that micro variety, but the big ones, to come):  



In 2007, off the coast of Antarctica, a colossal squid 33 feet long and just over 1000 pounds was caught:



Well, eight months ago, a giant squid was found in Antarctic waters, only a couple weeks ago thawed out and was found to weigh 770 pounds and measured to be 11.5 feet long, or 13 feet, by another source.  What is confusing is that this giant squid was, in fact, a colossal squid.  The giant is scientifically named Architeuthis dux, while the colossal is Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni.

This giant squid below, about 28 foot long, caught in 2004 at a depth of 722 feet off the Falkland Islands, is displayed at London's Natural History Museum.



The bottom photo was taken by Japanese scientists in 2006.  The largest giant squid was 43 feet and may have weighed 2000 pounds.

There are a lot of uncertainties on the size of a squid.  For one, the shrinkage is 20% when kept in alcoholic solutions or frozen.  Second, there is the human imagination.  This is why the beak is used as the means of comparison.  Conveniently, beaks have been found in the stomach of sperm whales.  Here is the beak of a Caribbean reef squid:


That colossal squid, mentioned above and shown below, for example, was 33 feet long, and had a lower beak of 42.5 millimeters.  Beaks up to 49 mm have been found inside sperm whales.


 The colossal beak, is to the left, while to the right is one from a giant squid.   


Colossal squids are said to grow up to 46 feet.  Here is a size comparison (giant to left and colossal to right):


The largest animal to have ever lived on Planet Earth, including all those brontosaurus-like monsters during the Jurassic Period, is, in fact, the Blue Whale, which still can be found throughout our oceans.  Compared to this biggest of beasts, here his some speculation on the size of a CALAMAR0:


There are, of course, exaggerations, starting with Jules Vernes' 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  Can you believe that film, with James Mason, Kirk Douglas and Peter Lorre, is exactly 60 years old?  If, as pictured here, for the Nautilus was 70 meters long, this squid would be about 500 feet in length.  As an aside, the 20,000 leagues term used in the title is the distance Nautilus travelled, for 20,000 leagues = 69,060 miles, and the deepest location under the sea is the Challenger Deep at not quite 7 miles.

Another (you need to click on it to read the details) would be the popular notion and the reality:



Well, what about the Kraken?  A so-called giant octopus a hundred feet across, while touted, it remains mostly mystical.  Nevertheless, two human creations:


The Pacific Giant Octopus, the largest, has been measured at 30 feet across, weighing 600 pounds.  but to finish, it is the colossal squid at 46 feet that is the largest calamaro.

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