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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

THE WORLD'S LARGEST OCTOPUS AND SQUID

Growing up in Kakaako, the Ala Moana Beach reef was in close walking distance.  There were octopi in that habitat.  For reasons that elude me, we called it "poking squid," and this normally occurred at night.  The poking part makes sense, for a spear was used, but that squid was an octopus.  The photo to the left is a record 5.5 pounder speared by Alvin Naguwa at Kaleloa Beach on Oahu in 2012.

Calamari is the Italian word for squid, unless you want to get really technical.  In some gourmet circles, squid is Nototodarus gouldi, and can be $4/pound cheaper than calamari, which comes from the genus Sepioteuthis. Whatever, there are certain tastes you remember from childhood, like dried tako (octopus, although sometimes called squid in Hawaii):


While the following graphic (the octopus is to the left) indicates how similar they might look, they are quite different animals.


The octopus has eight appendages, also called arms or legs.  The squid, ten, with two being tentacles.  The former lives at the bottom, while the latter floats around in deeper waters  The monster that attacked the Nautilus (which is also the name of another type of cephalopod) in Jules Vernes' 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (that was the Kirk Douglas 1954 film, but click on this for the full 3 hour 1997 version with Michael Caine--or if you're really into Verne, watch this full 1 hour 39 minute 1916 production) was a giant squid.  The mythical Kraken could have been either, although the one to the left is an octopus.
However, like the nautilus, they are both cephalopods, which are the most intelligent invertebrates (no bones).  They live up to 5 years old.  Paul, a common octopus from Germany might have also  had psychic abilities, as he was able to predict all seven winning teams in the 2010 soccer World Cup.  He passed away at the age of 2.5.

Tip to tip, the largest octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini, Giant Pacific Octopus) was 20 feet in diameter, with a Haliphron atlanticus weighing in at an estimated 165 pounds.  Here is a GP Octopus eating a shark.

The largest squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamilton, Colossal Squid, below) caught in 2007 weighed 1091 pounds, while another had a length of 46 feet.  This is being displayed at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, which as of last year is now also displaying an almost 800 pound squid. The Colossal Squid can have eyes almost a foot across.


Japan's NHK took the first live video of the Giant Squid (Architeuthis), which grows up to a length of 43 feet, slightly smaller than the colossal:


Interestingly enough, as the Blue Whale, at 110 feet and 420,000 pounds, is the largest animal to have ever lived, the current crop of octopus and squid is bigger than any prehistoric ancestor.


Note the size of a human to the right.

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