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Colossal squid caught in Antarctica

Thursday, March 29th, 2007 at 12:04 by Sue Stewart

Remember Howard Spencer-Mosley’s squid article? Well, monster portions of squid ‘n’ chips might have been on the menu last month when a colossal squid (to you and me, Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni to the scientific community) was caught by New Zealand fishermen in the Antarctic.

It turns out, though, that catching the beast was the least of their problems. It took 2 hours to land the creature which “was almost dead when it reached the surface, and the careful work of the crew was paramount in getting this specimen aboard in good condition” according to New Zealand fisheries minister, Jim Anderton.

So what did they do with the miraculously still-live beastie? Well, presumably it wasn’t “almost dead” for long, as they stuck it in the ship’s freezer. That’s right. There’s a colossal squid popsicle somewhere in New Zealand.

To be fair, the chances of the crew tucking into tractor tyre-sized calamari rings was always remote. A colossal squid has never been caught before, so excited scientists wanted to get their own mitts on it and have a good look. Sadly, the first thing that they noticed was that the nets had made puncture marks on it. Well, yes. It weighed 495 kilos (that’s 1,089 lbs). If someone hauled you around in a net made from fly fishing line, I’d expect it to leave marks on you.

The latest news on the beastie, though, is that having landed it and frozen it, they now can’t defrost it. This is because it’s likely to rot on the outside before it thaws on the inside. (I suppose that puts the problem of defrosting the Christmas turkey into perspective.) The proposed solution? Microwaves.

I foresee two problems with this. One - can you imagine the size of the oven? Two - speaking as someone who can’t even defrost a pathetic square of frozen cod fillet without burning the edges - who is going to do the tricky calculation of power level and standing time?

Maybe monster squid ‘n’ chips is on the menu, after all.

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