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All eyes on Colossal squid

Published: 6:22PM Friday February 23, 2007 Source: One News

The biggest Colossal squid ever caught has been attracting attention from around the world.

The carcass would be worth millions to a collector but the monster from 2,000 metres under the sea now belongs to the New Zealand government.

The 10 metre squid weighs almost half a tonne but it is an even bigger heavyweight when it comes to monetary value. Marine biologist Steve O'Shea says it is worth "many, many millions of dollars" and its scientific value is priceless.

"Any museum in the world would do anything to get this animal," says O'Shea.

The squid was pulled on board the San Aspiring while it was fishing for patagonian toothfish off Antarctica.

Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton says he has fielded more calls from the rest of the world on the Colossal squid than anything he can remember.

The focus of all the attention is encased in an iceblock in a coolstore.

Ministry of Fisheries observer Geoff Dolan says they knew immediately that it was a Colossal squid.

"The skipper and the crew also were aware that the colossal squid are a rare catch," says Dolan.

Under the terms of the international fishing agreement observers like Dolan have the right to take samples so the squid belongs to the New Zealand government.

Until now the biggest Colossal recorded was five metres long. The latest find is a male and that tells scientists there are bigger ones to be found.

"What that means is that we've got an even larger female out there right now...this is a huge animal in itself can you imagine something even larger," says Dolan.

The Colossal squid is being kept away from the media in a cold storage warehouse at Timaru wharf. Ministry of Fisheries officials say it is being treated as the holy grail of specimens.

Next week the squid will be trucked to Wellington for examination and preservation for eventual display in Te Papa.