Tuesday, 08 July 2008 20:34


By Amanda Dale, Royal Gazette, 8 Jul 2008

Little Elsa Stevenson examines the remains of a giant squid, the mysterious Dana Octopus Squid Taningia danae, after it washed up on Grape Bay Beach, Paget on Sunday. The head, mantle and tentacles of the squid appeared to have been chewed by a large marine animal. The Dana Octopus Squid is normally only found in the stomachs of Sperm whales and are thought to live between 700 and 2,500 feet in the ocean. Conservationist Andrew Stevenson e-mailed a photo of the remains to Smithsonian Institution zoologist Clyde Roper who gave a tentative identification of the species which can grow to more than seven feet. 

Photo: Andrew Stevenson

The remains of a monster of the deep have washed ashore on Bermuda.

The head, tentacles and mantle of a deep sea squid were discovered at Grape Bay by beachcombers on Sunday. The find is rare as the squid inhabit depths of between 240-940 metres and specimens are only found in the stomachs of sperm whales.

The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo is currently examining the remains, but early indications suggest it is a Dana Octopus Squid (Taningia danae) - one of the largest known squid species. This bioluminescent giant squid has yellow photophores on the ends of two arms which flash at will to disorientate prey. They reach 2.3 metres in length and can weigh up to 61 kg.

Zoe Brady, a 20-year-old student from Smiths, found the mantle of the squid as she was walking along the beach with her friend Maurisa Smith.

“We just noticed this weird mass near the rocks where the waves were breaking,” she said.

“It was white but was dark purple and red in colour on the top. We got some more friends and took it up to my mum’s car, but it was heavy. It smelt quite fishy and all of this squid juice kept dropping on our feet!

“It is really cool to find something like this on a beach in Bermuda.”

Mother Rebecca Zuill said: “It was very heavy - it took three of us to carry it to the car. It had bite marks and so looked like it had been attacked by a shark or a sperm whale.”

The piece of mantle was more than a metre in length and weighed about 50 lbs. It was taken to the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute where education officer Crystal Schultz showed it off yesterday to wide-eyed youngsters on the BUEI Explorer Camps.

“A lot of the kids have been learning about bioluminescent giant squid so to see something like this was very exciting,” she said.

The head and tentacles of the squid were found by Andrew Stevenson, the conservationist and filmmaker behind the Humpback Whale Film Project. Mr. Stevenson said Dr. Clyde Roper, a zoologist at the Smithsonian Institute, has identified a photograph of the remains in an email as Taningia danae.

“It’s quite an amazing find,” said Mr. Stevenson. “There is no doubt at all it would be a prime target for a sperm whale. Just this spring we saw three to four sperm whales off the shore of Bermuda.”