The deep, dark and cold depths of the ocean are proving to be a treasure trove of life. Recently, the websites, OurAmazingPlanet and its sister site LiveScience.com reported that a new species of large squid had been discovered near an underwater mountain range in the Indian Ocean.
Scientists on one of several six-week expeditions to this region collected a specimen that was measured at 70 centimeters (30 inches) long. The body is long and slender. It is believed that it belongs to the Chiroteuthid family – deep-sea squids known to have the same body structure as well for emitting bioluminescent lights used to lure prey.
[to view it, go to giant squid]
The giant squid is not the monster of the depth most people think of when they hear the word “giant squid,” nor is the typical small type bought in supermarkets and bait shops. It is one of the largest discovered, and is one of 74 species of squids identified – as well as one of 7,000 samples of sea life collected – from the cruise that was led by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
To date, not much is known about giant squids in particular. The various species of giant squids – such as the Humboldt squid – have a reputation of being very aggressive. Fishermen and divers in various parts of the globe have reported having run-ins with them. Some have reported that they had been attacked.
Not much is known about this new species. In fact, it hasn’t been given a specific name. Still, the discovery is remarkable, considering that it’s a rarity finding these beasts of the deep.
“We’re obviously very pleased,” Alex Rogers, a marine biologist with the Zoological Society of London and the project’s lead scientist, told a reporter for OurAmazingPlanet.
“We knew we had quite a high diversity of squid in the catches but didn’t know just how high it was,” Rogers added.
According to LiveScience.com, the expedition that led to this discovery was part of the Seamounts Project. It was started in 2009, and involved a team of the world’s leading marine experts taking expeditions above unnamed seamounts in the southern Indian Ocean. Seamounts are mountains that rise from the ocean floor but, unlike islands, don’t reach the surface (LiveScience.com, 2010).
According to Rogers, about 21 scientists worked on the expedition that led to the squid’s identification. Many, he said, worked on several specimens of fishes, squids, zooplanktons and other marine animals attempting to identify their species.
“Many specimens look similar to each other, and we have to use elaborate morphological features, such as muscle orientation and gut length, to differentiate between them,” he added.
The photograph of the new giant squid species supplied by the websites doesn’t appear to be any different from other giant squids – at least for the lay person looking at it. However, the differences are subtle. The species differs in girth and body size when compared to another giant squid, the Humboldt Squid. The Humboldt squid is much larger and imposing (some grow to 7 ft long and to 100 pounds). Also, the Humboldt – often found in the equatorial waters from the coast of South America to as far north as Northern California – have 10 arms and sharp beaks. This newly discovered species appears to have two very long feeder arms and six small ones.
Since the advent of deep sea submarines and the unpiloted submergible, more of the deep is being discovered. To date, numerous species of giant squids have been identified. This new species will most likely not be the last to be discovered.
“New Large Squid Species Found (Nov. 2010)”: LiveScience.com: http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20101115/sc_livescience/newlargesquidspeciesdiscovered
OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer (Nov.2010): “New Large Squid Species Found”: http://www.ouramazingplanet.com/new-large-squid-species-discovered-0739/