Catch of the week honors belong to three fishermen who recovered a barely-living 25-foot giant squid off Florida on Monday, and to University of Florida researchers who have collected the remarkable specimen for study and possible display.
Giant squid, long depicted as sea monsters and legendary for their epic battles against predatory sperm whales, reside largely in the ocean's light-less depths. Whole specimens are incredibly rare.
"It's so rare to get these specimens and they're such deep-water animals that we don't know much about how they live," said John Slapcinsky, collection manager at the university-run Florida Museum of Natural History. "This specimen provides an excellent opportunity to learn things about these creatures we couldn't find out any other way."
The squid was discovered floating at the surface by Robert Benz, Joey Asaro and Paul Peroulakis at about 11 a.m. Monday. They had been fishing aboard a 23-foot boat and teamed to carefully haul the colossal cephalopod aboard.
"I thought we definitely need to bring it in, because no one's going to believe us if we don't," Benz said in a news release issued by the university. "I didn't want to leave it out there and just let the sharks eat it." (Benz also appears in the WPTV News video posted below.)
Giant squid, or Architeuthis dux, can measure 60 feet long and weigh 1,000-plus pounds. They reproduce only once, after which they can become lethargic and slowly perish. That might have been the case with this particular squid.