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Giant Squid Washed Up On Beach Stuns Fisherman

Daniel Aplin

Three brothers from New Zealand woke up early to catch some fresh fish last weekend, but wound up making a once-in-a-lifetime find instead.  

Daniel, Jack, and Matthew Aplin were looking for a good diving spot outside the city of Wellington when they stumbled onto something huge.

"My brother said 'what's that over there?' and pointed it out," Daniel told a local radio station.

"It was right next to the track so we pulled over and we were like: 'It's a big squid.'"

In fact, it was a giant squid, and the Aplin brothers' discovery has been making headlines around the world in the days since they stumbled across it.

An Ocean Predator

Daniel says his two siblings are "big dudes," so you can tell from their small size compared to the squid that it's a real monster.

The Aplin brothers measured their squid to be 14 feet, nine inches long.

Bear in mind, they measured the creature after their dive, and agreed it had shrunk a bit since they discovered the body.

Based on the size, experts agree it was probably a giant squid. Males of that species often grow to be more than 30 feet long.

Squids use their powerful arms and tentacles to trap prey, which they tear apart with a sharp, bird-like beak.

Giant squid
A giant squid attacks a whale in this mural from the Houston Museum of Natural Science.Etee

They can also jet through the ocean at high speeds by pushing water through their mantle (head covering) like a jet.

Researchers have often found giant squid carcasses inside the bellies of sperm whales - one of their few natural predators.

But live squid are notoriously camera shy. There were no photographs of them until 2004, and no video of the squid in their deep-sea habitat until 2012.

Giant Squid
The first footage of a giant squid in its natural habitat.NHK / Discovery Channel

Giants Of The Deep

Along with whales, squid are sometimes attacked by deep sea sharks. But the brothers didn't notice any sign of a fight on the squid's carcass.

"It was pretty clean, nothing major on it. There was a scratch on the top of its head but smaller than a lighter, tiny, wouldn't think that's what killed it," Daniel remembered.

New Zealand's Department of Conservation said giant squid sightings on their beaches are rare, but not unheard of.

In 2007, a New Zealand fishing boat made an even bigger catch, hauling in a colossal squid.

The 17-foot long specimen, which weighed over 1,000 pounds, is on display at the country's national Te Papa museum.

Colossal squid
The colossal squid specimen.Eggplant - Flickr

Colossal squid are considered larger than giant squid, because they have larger mantles while giants have longer tentacles.

But with eyeballs 10-inches wide, the giant squid is nothing to sneeze at. Experts also theorize, based on huge squid beaks found inside whales, that some giants could grow to be 66-feet long.

Giant squid
The beak of a giant squid.Smithsonian Insitute

The Aplin brothers' squid may not set any records, but their cool discovery taught us all a little more about science.

By the way, were you impressed by New Zealand's black sand beaches in their photos?

Black sand beach
Punaluu Beach, Hawaii.JGKlein - Wikimedia

Black sand is either made from fine, separated minerals or in locations with high concentrations of volcanic basalt (New Zealand is covered in active and dormant volcanoes).

Other famous black sand beaches can be found in Hawaii, Alaska, and Iceland.

Are you impressed by this giant squid, or terrified?

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com