The morning walk on the South African beach of Golden Mile Beach last Saturday had a huge surprise in store for a couple from Cape Town. Adèle Grosse and her husband suddenly collided with a washed-up giant squid of more than 300 kilograms and with a length of four meters.
“Oh, really, when I first saw it, my breath caught,” Adèle Grosse tells Live Science. “It honestly looked like a majestic prehistoric animal.”
Grosse instinctively wanted to save the squid and “drag it back into the sea”. “But when I got closer, I saw that he was dead.”
It was an Atlantic giant squid (architeuthis dux), which has the largest eyes of the animal kingdom: 30 cm or the size of a football. The species, which can grow up to 18 meters, is rarely spotted. Grosse estimates the weight of this copy at 330 kilograms.
What the squid died of is not known. According to Grosse, there were large waves in the sea the night before, and the animal has washed ashore on the beach in the morning. “We looked for bite marks or other injuries, but couldn’t find anything,” she said.
Grosse informed the curator of the marine invertebrates of South Africa’s Iziko Museums, where the giant squid is temporarily stored in a freezer in order to examine its DNA and anatomy after the corona crisis.
Iziko has the largest collection of giant squids in the world. The largest one measures 9.3 meters, or more than twice as large as the latest acquisition.