A Sci-Fi moment washed up on Kommetjie Beach just two days ago, and unless you’re used to seeing giant squids on the regular, you’d be forgiven for doing a double-take.
The beached squid’s carcass naturally drew a lot of attention, especially being an ocean dweller who far prefers life deep below the surface. Trophy hunters and fishermen were quick to snatch parts of the animal, including the eyes, beak and tentacles – much to the dismay of animal rights groups and scientists who wished to study more of the creature.
The Wildlife team at the Cape of Good Hope SPCA was called to the rescue, but not much of the squid (now determined to be a female) was left.
But why did the squidzilla wash up in the first place, and how do experts think it died?
Here in the Cape, we know that coming across a marine animal carcass isn’t always unusual. Whale carcasses are unfortunately not as uncommon a sight as one might think, especially given the rise of plastic in our oceans.
As for the squid’s journey to the ocean afterlife, the Cape of Good Hope’s wildlife officer, Jon Friedman indicated as per IOL that a more accurate cause of death would require a deeper study using tissue that the trophy hunters and fishermen had taken.
What was able to be sampled of the squid was taken to the Iziko Museum for DNA analysis.
Friedman expresses that the cause of death likely isn’t due to a health-related problem, but rather the chance that she was “struck by a ship while she was at the sea surface.” This possible strike is likely to have caused her journey to the shore.
This means that we can breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that we’re probably not dealing with a giant squid stranding situation, but rather an instance of what Friedman calls “ship traffic”.
For those curious, you can take a look at the pictures of the giant squid as snapped by Ali Paulus below.
Look! Straight out of a Sci-Fi movie, giant squid washes up on Kommetjie Beach
Picture: Ali Paulus