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The Kraken's Cousin

By Benito Cabezas

The Krackens Cousin

For Chris

The Giant Squid shoots through the inky black water of the ocean bottom. It's 33-43 feet long but can disappear like a magician’s rabbit. Few people will ever see a Giant Squid.

 

Imagine you're on a voyage in the 1600s to Scotland. Your captain warns you of humongous sea monsters as big as islands that will eat the ship in one gulp. Sailors would believe they Had been graced with food and water, then the kraken would drag down the ship and devour the crew alive. You say absurd, there can’t be a single such monster living in the seas and the captain says there is not just one but two of these creatures roaming the open ocean:like that one right there! You look over the rail and you see an enormous Tentacle latch onto the ship 3 feet from where you are standing. The tentacle thrashes around on the deck for a while, then slips back into the sea. That creature that just attacked you and the ship in your imagination was, believe it or not a Giant Squid.

The kracken

Humans have discovered more than 300 species of squid. The smallest squid is 1 inch long, about the diameter of a quarter. And the biggest squid is 45 feet long. About as long as a school bus can be in the U.S. Some of the relatives of the Giant Squid are:

The Giant Squid is part of the squid species which is a subspecies to invertebrate. Invertebrate have no backbone to support them. This allows some invertebrate like octopuses to change their body shape to be tiny or huge. The fastest invertebrate are squid though.

The Squidy Family 

In my opinion, even though the humboldt squid is ridiculously savage, I wouldn’t call it the creepiest, the Vampire Squid would take that prize. Its name alone would make anyone think twice about picking a fight with this one. Their skin is black giving the impression that their arms are a “flowing black cape”. It only grows 1 foot long which makes you imagine how freaky looking it would be if it was bigger. Most have red eyes but some have blue ones. The name itself is a misnomer, it doesn’t eat live things.

The Colossal squid which boasts the world’s largest eyes. Colossal Squid can grow to weigh 1000 pounds.Because it weighs 1000 pounds, it takes first place for the world’s largest squid. Those thousand pounds get spread through the body making the Colossal Squid very wide.

The Cool Cousins 

Even though the Colossal Squid is the largest squid on this planet, it isn’t the most aggressive squid around. The Humboldt Squid holds that title. It was nicknamed the Red Devil for its savage ways. Though it only weighs a tenth of the Colossal Squid, it remains very aggressive. The Humboldt Squid has even been known to attack sharks. You better watch out If you plan on going to the west coast of the Americas because that’s where they live.

The last species of squid on our list is the Japanese Flying Squid. They are tiny and so they consequently weigh as much as a football which isn’t that much. They live in the northern part of the pacific for about 1 year. They have rings to tell their age which isn’t very handy as they live such short lives.

The Cool Cousins Continued

The Giant Squid has some very cool features. For example, the Giant Squid can regenerate its tentacles. Imagine that the hippopotamus you wanted for christmas bit your arm off and the next morning, you have another arm! It would be a miracle! Also, the Giant Squid's brain adopts the shape of a doughnut. They say you are what you eat. I guess the Giant Squid’s been eating too many doughnuts. Interestingly, the esophagus goes through the doughnut hole in the brain. But the craziest thing of all is that the Giant Squid’s eyes are as big as a human head which depending on the human, can be very small or very big.

 Fantastic Features

So…the sperm whale doesn’t give off light but when it makes the journey from the surface to the deep dark oceans which, by the way are inhabited by creatures that can give off their own light, the sperm whale disturbs the creatures which start flashing. The Giant Squid which can see light from 120 meters away will pick up that light emitted by the creatures that the sperm whale disturbed while diving from the surface to find their dinner. The Giant Squid will then turn and shoot away. I’ve heard they're pretty fast.

Did you know when the Giant squid fights the sperm whale, their suckers leave circular scars.

The Fantastic Features continued

The sperm whale gets a kick out of a Giant Squid dinner which has been proven by dissecting the whales stomachs. There have been many a squid beak found in the organ (not the instrument)  but there's one thing that isn’t right. The Giant Squid can detect large glowing objects and the sperm whale doesn’t glow. I mean how many people have seen a huge lit whale. It just doesn’t compute.

The Giant Squid has some other very interesting features lacking in humans. For example the Giant Squid can see in bioluminescent light and lights varying tones. They are specifically adapted to see glowing large objects. The only animal that is large that Giant Squids must see is the sperm whale.

If the Giant squid didn’t have fins, while it would be making its escape from one sperm whale, it might shoot into the mouth of another. But since it has fins, if it was outflanked, it would just twitch its fins and shoot right past its outflanker. Those same fins allow the giant squid to move around to catch a fishy dinner. They are multi purposeful fins!

The Giant Squid also has 3 hearts. That must make for a very interesting valentine's day. Sending out hearts to your 3 crushes. 2 of the hearts are for the gills and 1 for pumping blood ‘round the body.

 Even More Features

Did you know Jellyfish help Giant Squid hunt by leading them to the Jellyfishes pretators.

The giant Squid doesn’t have a mouth. So how does it eat its fishy breakfasts and shrimpy lunches and whaley dinners? Instead of a mouth, this creature has a beak. But the beak doesn’t do a very good job of chopping up food which is why the Giant Squid has a radula. It’s food is sliced by the beak and diced by the radula. It’s a slice ‘n dice combination!

This beasts diet isn’t limited to only fish even though you could call them the Giant Squid’s rice. The giant squid also devours shrimp, dines on other squid and sometimes feasts on whales. They have attacked ships after mistaking them for whales. That is some very bad judgement skills at work.

If the giant squid didn’t have 33 foot long feeding tentacles we would find many more of their bodies on the beaches. The tentacles are the staple part in their feeding strategy. They use the tentacles to catch fish. But fish are very slippery…which is why they have suckers. They line the giant squids tentacles which help them catch those slippery scoundrels. The suckers have tiny teeth on the edges to help them acquire their dinner.

The Dinner Menu

Since the Giant Squid lives such a short life, it must have a very different live from ours. For example, the giant squid grows up without parents. They leave before the young are born. The Giant Squid come from eggs and grow quickly. By 3 years of age, they can restart the process.

How long would you expect the Giant Squid to live. 100 years? 200 years? Well, if you divide 100 by 20 and 200 by 40 will give you your answer. If you haven’t figured it out yet, that's five. Five years of life for such a big creature. Thats crazy but true.

The "Longest" Life

Until recently, no one had ever seen a live Giant Squid. Then, in 2004, someone caught a Giant Squid on video. Then in 2006 someone actually saw a Giant Squid. What a sight that must’ve been.

 

There is still lots to learn about the Giant Squid. People have captures Giant Squid to learn more about them. Even though we still have much to learn about the Giant Squids, we do know 1 thing: they don’t kill humans. Until very recently, the Giant Squid were known as the human murderers of the sea.

Human's+Giant Squid=?

The Oceanic Food Chain

 

 

The World's Smallest Squid

 

and the World's largest Squid

 

Not drawn to scale

 

 

 

 

     Smallest squid                                         Largest squid

           8cm                                                         43ft

Not drawn to scale

To large to see it's whole body