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Pattaya Daily News

12 July 2010 :: 14:07:13 pm 30557

Monster of Our Seas: Giant Squid

Squids, especially the giant squid are a somewhat scary looking, mysterious and mythical creature that live in the depths of the ocean.
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People have been fascinated for hundreds of years of the possibility of sea monsters lurking in our seas. Tales of sea monsters such as the Kraken and the serpent are nothing more than exaggerated stories. Giant squids are about the scariest creatures of the deepest parts of the oceans we will ever encounter, they are not mythical as previously believed but the size of them is amazing with many being as long as 60 feet and been known to weigh 900 kg with eyes the size of basketballs.

They are very strange looking creatures with approximately 300 different species known to man though it is widely believed there may be many more that are unknown. The reason for so many varieties is their versatility and adaptability. Squid are found in salt water and can adapt to a range of temperature levels except very warm waters where these creature tend to lose some of their buoyancy.

Squid are soft bodied with a very large head and brain. They are all cigar shaped or spherical with a lateral fin on either side. Squid vary in size from area to area, some an inch long while others generally grow to approximately 40 feet, though there have been some extremely giant caught.

They have eight tentacles with two of them having a spatula shape tip. These two are longer than the rest and are used to catch their prey which is then passed on to the other tentacles while their beak -like jaw tear them apart. They eat a variety of things in the ocean and what they eat depends on their size. Giant squid will eat fish and other smaller squid and large sea animal like young sharks and whales, while the smaller squid will feed on shrimps and other small marine life. These creatures are carnivorous mollusks and belong to the octopus family.

Squids generally grow fast with a life expectancy of around three years in most cases, though it is believed the giant varieties can live up to 500 years and die after spawning thousands of eggs in one go. The male giant squid’s reproductive system matures fully even if it is small in size and at the time of mating, the male injects the sperm into the ventral arm of the female where she stores it until spawning.

The habitat of the giant squid makes it impossible for the scientist to study and the fact they do have was from carcasses that were washed up on beaches and it has only recently that scientists have been able to capture the giant squid on film.

Many fish have a swim bladder that enables them to steady themselves through the water, but the giant squid has ammonium chloride that flows through its body which not only gives it buoyancy, but gives the squid an awful taste.

Although the giant squid is not on our menus, there are many smaller varieties that are along with baby octopus and cuttlefish. Squid is very high in selenium, phosphorus, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and cholesterol. It was once a worry about partaking of a diet high in cholesterol, but it has now been found that our body makes its own cholesterol and a high cholesterol diet has little effect.

Patty Brown

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