Japanese fishermen have caught a giant squid measuring 11 feet long and weighing 220 pounds.
The anglers were trawling for flatfish and crabs when they captured the giant squid in their net. The squid, which was missing both of its longest tentacles, died before reaching shore, the Telegraph reports.
A video of the unusual catch shows the sea creature being measured on the ship. “I think it might be the first time a giant squid was caught during trawl fishing,” one of the fishermen says in the video.
“As soon as I saw it, I wondered how many people it could feed if we made sashimi out of it,” another said.
The San'in Kaigan Nature Museum in Tottori, Japan, suspects the squid would have measured 26 feet with its tentacles intact. Giant squids are known to inhabit the deep waters off the Japanese coast, anywhere from 980 feet to 4,920 feet below.
“There are only a few records of a giant squid being caught during trawl fishing. So this shows that the squid was swimming at that depth, so I think this is significant,” Toshifumi Wada, from the San'in Kaigan Nature Museum, said.
The Tottori prefecture fishing cooperative plans to preserve the giant squid for research purposes. The latest catch follows three other giant squids caught off the coast of Japan in recent months.
Last Sunday, a dead giant squid washed ashore on a beach in Kashiwazaki city. Earlier this month, two giant squids were caught in fishing nets off Sado city in Niigata prefecture, and another in Toyama prefecture.
In October, a 30-foot giant squid was found on a Spanish beach. Beachgoers found the 400-pound Architeuthis Dux and it was later transported to a local museum to be examined.
“The find, however, has a great scientific, cultural and museum value. Whether we conserve her in a special storage or have her exposed in the museum are some of the options under consideration,” Gerardo Garcia Castillo, head of the museum responsible for the conservation, told MercoPress.
Giant squids are the biggest invertebrate on Earth, measuring up to 10 inches in diameter, with eight arms and "two very, very long tentacles which it uses to grasp its prey," Richard Ellis, author of "The Search for the Giant Squid: The Biology and Mythology of the World's Most Elusive Sea Creature," told CNN.
Living at depths between 1,000 and 3,000 feet, they're quite difficult to study. In 2004 the first giant squid images were captured in Japan by Tsunemi Kubodera, a scientist with Japan's National Science Museum. Two years later, Kubodera and his team were able to snare a 24-foot giant squid southeast of Tokyo.
"It was shining and so beautiful," Kubodera told Agence France-Presse about the discovery. "I was so thrilled when I saw it firsthand, but I was confident we would because we rigorously researched the areas we might find it, based on past data."