Published March 23, 2007
WELLINGTON, New Zealand – A half-ton colossal squid, believed to be the largest ever caught, may be destined for the microwave oven.
But researchers say they don't want to cook the massive creature — they only want to defrost it so that they can study it better.
Scientists at New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, have taken possession of the beast, which took fishermen two hours to land after it was netted by chance in Antarctic waters last month and was frozen soon afterward to preserve it.
Expert Steve O'Shea said the squid had weighed in at 1,089 pounds and measured 33 feet long — heavier but shorter than initial estimates of 990 pounds and 39 feet.
It appears to be by far the largest specimen of the rare and mysterious deep-water species Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, or colossal squid, ever caught.
Experts say the creatures, which have long been one of the most mysterious denizens of the deep ocean, may grow even bigger — up to 46 feet long.
O'Shea said scientists at the museum are considering using a giant microwave oven as a possible way to defrost the animal so they can study it.
The mammoth squid could not be left to defrost at room temperature because the process would take days, leaving the outside to rot while the core remained frozen, he said.
"There are certain microwave equivalents that are used by industry, for treating timber and the like, that we could probably fit this thing into," O'Shea said. "But that is just one option."
At the time it was caught, O'Shea said it would make calamari rings the size of tractor tires if cut up — but they would taste like ammonia.
Colossal squid can descend to 6,500 feet and are known to be extremely active, aggressive hunters.
O'Shea said the squid is priceless to scientists, and would be worth many millions of dollars if insured.