Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Giant squid writ small: juvenile monsters of the deep captured off Japan

Three young squid caught by marine biologists are the spitting image of their gigantic parents – if nearly 1,000lbs and 50ft smaller

Alan Yuhas in New York

Saturday 24 October 2015 16.12 BST

Marine biologists have captured three young giant squid, Japanese researchers reported, in what would be the first confirmed catch of very young juveniles of the elusive creature.

The young squid, caught off south-western Japan, are replicas of their gigantic parents who live in the deep. Two were caught together; all three weighed less than 1lb and spanned 5-13ins. Adults can reach 50ft and 1,000lbs.

The smallest squid was captured alive, at a depth of 45 metres, leading the researchers to speculate that young squid may drift on ocean currents or inhabit shallow water at night. They “may inhabit and migrate through different depths of the ocean depending on the development stage”, the researchers said.

The researchers said “genetic analysis” supported their identification of the squid as juvenile giants, which was also based on mantles, suckers and other body parts. The squid were caught by various fishermen in 2013, but the researchers published their findings only this week, in the journal Marine Biodiversity Records.

“This is the first time in the world that such young giant squid were found, and it has helped us understand what they are like this early in their life stage,” paper co-author Toshifumi Wada told the Wall Street Journal.

That two of the squid were captured together in the Sea of Japan may indicate that juvenile giant squid travel together, he added, in contrast to the solitary habits of adults.

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