Apr 5 2014

Giant squid escapes icy tomb

27 March, 2014 3:06PM AEST By Lucinda Kent


One of the ocean’s monsters is being revealed to the public for the first time in the Queensland Museum’s latest exhibition.

The giant squid has been thawed and preserved for public display at the Queensland Museum for the first time. (ABC Multiplatform:Lucinda Kent)

A giant squid that was found frozen in a block of ice has been thawed and meticulously preserved by scientists for display in the Deep Oceans exhibition.

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Mollusc expert Darryl Potter says the squid on display may seem large at around seven metres long, but the species can grow all the way up to 13 metres in length including their ‘club tentacles’ used for killing prey.

Giant squid live in some of the deepest parts of the ocean and were thought to be mythological creatures until around 100 years ago, but the first sighting of a live giant squid in the ocean was in September 2004.

“They were spotted by mariners in early days and that lead to the tales of monsters from the deep,” Mr Potter said.

“That of course led to all your science fiction movies with grossly distorted facts about the size of these things and what they ate.”

Mr Potter says the giant squid on display in the Deep Oceans exhibition, is known as Cal, short for calamari, is one of the best preserved specimens in the world.

Breaking the ice

Cal the squid had previously been on display at Underwater World on the Sunshine Coast, where it was kept frozen in the block of ice it was found in, which kept the creature intact before museum scientists used professional preservation techniques.

“We brought it back to the museum here and it took about three days of chipping through the ice very carefully because you didn’t want to damage any of the appendages,” he said.

“Not only just chipping through it but there’s a lot of ice that was inside it that had to thaw, it sat around for about a week completely thawing.”

Museum workers had to don protective ‘spacesuits’ while they applied chemicals that keep the animal’s skin, tentacles, and head permanently fixed.

The squid has been kept in the museum laboratories for the past 5 years and can be seen for the first time out of the ice at the Deep Oceans exhibit at the Queensland Museum from 28 March to 6 October 2014.

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