Giant Squid Essay written in 2008

Hey Guys this is an essay I wrote when I was a receptionist at Medisystem Pharmacy Ltd. And they gave me a project to count all the pens in the company so instead I poorly researched an essay about Giant Squid then wrote it. Hope you enjoy and learn some now out of date facts!

Introduction

The Giant Squid is without a doubt one of the most intriguing animals in the world. Much of this is due to the fact that very little is known about this massive creature. But large advances have been made of late in the study of the giant squid with the first picture of a live squid (2001) and the first recording of a live squid (2006). This report will hopefully shed some light on the misconceptions, myths and if your luck you just might learn a little too! So sit back and gather ye youngins’ cause tonight be the night that we catch the squid!

Reproduction and Birth

Unlike other animals the Giant Squid does not have a mating call because of the lack of light at the bottom of the ocean, where the squid inhabit; the squid’s mating has been deducted to be bumping into each other at the bottom of the ocean. How’s that for an introduction! The terminal organ of the male is relatively long as it is almost the length of its mantle. Much like humans the giant squid uses its terminal organ to implant spermatophores (sperm) into the female, only the female absorbs these into her arms. After the male has sewn his seed they separate, as the squids mating ritual resembles a fight, rather than our human love. Once the seed is in the female the eggs soon travel from her arms into her large, terminally positioned ovary into long, convoluted proximal oviducts. From here they advance to the oviducal glands, structures that secrete to the egg chemicals that, amongst other things, initiate sperm activation and attraction. Passing from these glands the eggs would discharge from the distal oviduct, possibly in strings, directly into the female mantle cavity. The nidamental glands would then secrete vast amounts of jelly, probably almost entirely filling her mantle cavity. This jelly binds with discharging eggs, and like a cement mixer, her mantle probably rhythmically contracts and relaxes, thoroughly mixing them. Shortly afterwards this mass of jelly and egg would be extruded through her funnel, and a sphere-like egg mass of ~half-a-metre in diameter would be released. This mass would then be taken into her arms where she would cradle it as it absorbed seawater and increases in size (possibly to two-or-so metres diameter). And that’s how squid babies are made!

Size

As far as size goes there aren’t many animals that make the giant squid look small. When a Giant Squid was caught off the coast of Tasmania in 1887 scientist thought it to be fifty five feet long! While that theory has been debunked, the Giant Squid remains the largest invertebrate with an average size at maturity of thirty three feet! Little however, is known about how they get to be that size. Right now scientists measure how fast a squid grows and their age like the way they tell the age of a tree, by counting the rings inside them. The difference being that with a tree it’s done on the stump, with a squid it’s done on the mantle.
From the point of birth growth can be exponential, if they have enough food. It has been argued that growth is either slowed drastically or becomes erratic with the onset of sexual maturity (hubba hubba!). While this is the subject of contention amongst scientists, we do know that their growth varies from season to season and from individual to individual just like you and me!

Diet

Information on this subject has been scarce at best, due to the fact that the giant squid can not be tracked because they live so deep in the ocean; in face most autopsies done on the stomach remnants of Giant Squid include; fish, crustaceans and other squid. Although this varies dependant on the region that squid are found in of course. And they are one tough sucker to pin down as they have washed ashore in Japan, New Zealand, New Found land, and Ireland to name a few. The most interesting find as to the giant squid’s diet though was when a squid washed ashore off the coast of Tasmania where scientists identified the remains of the tentacles of another giant squid. Some theorize that this is merely part of the mating ritual and some say cannibalism.
As for how Giant Squid get food, they have eight arms and two longer feeding tentacles that help them bring food to their beak-like mouths. During an attack on prey, their fins and mantle would be up, its arms down, and the two long tentacles would drop almost vertically, clasped together, with their distal, expanded clubs acting as tongs would do, plucking prey from the water column many metres away. You’d think since there is no light at the bottom of the ocean that it would be hard for them to detect prey, but Giant Squid have such massive organs that they can easily find prey. Their hunting style is believed to be more passive than aggressive, possibly due to the fact that they are weak swimmers, but hey you would be too if you were that big!

Fun Facts

They have only one known natural predator, the sperm whale.

The eye of a Giant Squid can be the size of a beach ball!

You may recognize the Giant Squid from appearances in Moby Dick and Twenty thousand leagues under the sea!

Giant Squid have it pretty sweet because they don’t have to pay taxes!

A diagram of a Giant Squid.

First photo of the squid taken in 2008

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