Rare giant squid washed up on Tas West Coast

Ritchie Bauer from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery with the giant squid on Ocean Beach. Photo: www.parks.tas.gov.au
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The rare giant squid washed up on the State's remote West Coast is the fourth found in Tasmania in the month of July in the past 11 years.

An animal identified as a giant squid (Architeuthis), was found on Ocean Beach near Strahan on Tuesday night and reported to Parks and Wildlife Service officers.

It weighs more than 200 kilograms and is believed to be more than seven metres long.

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery senior curator of the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, Dr David Pemberton, said it is incredible that the four giant squid strandings in Tasmania of recent years were on July 19 1986, July 20 1991, July 20 2002 and July 10 2007.

'The date of this latest finding is more than a coincidence,' Dr Pemberton said.

'Something is happening at this time of year. Squid in general die after their breeding season, so it could have something to do with that.'

'This is the first giant squid stranding reported on the west coast - the other giant squid were discovered off Tasmania's East Coast.

'However, the giant squid is known to be a food source for sperm whales, which have frequently stranded on the West Coast.'

A TMAG team, including senior curator of invertebrate zoology Genefor Walker-Smith, spent yesterday afternoon measuring the squid and noting external features.

The giant squid is being transported on ice from Ocean Beach to TMAG today, via a whale rescue trailer supplied by the Parks and Wildlife Service.

Before leaving Strahan, TMAG staff took the trailer to the local primary school to show students the rarely-seen animal.

'On return to Hobart, the giant squid will be frozen and prepared for storage in the TMAG collection, 'Dr Pemberton said.

'Tissue and diet samples will be taken when appropriate.

'If there is stomach content, we will also be looking to find out what the squid had been eating.'

Dr Pemberton said the response to the stranding has gone very smoothly and would not have been possible without the assistance of staff from the Parks and Wildlife Service and the marine conservation section at the Department of Primary Industries and Water.

http://www.parks.tas.gov.au