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The BBC's Michael Peschardt in Tasmania
These are not mythical but genuine sea creatures
 real 28k

Monday, 14 February, 2000, 15:10 GMT
Scientists reveal monster secrets

squid Mythical creature of the ocean?

By Michael Peschardt in Sydney

One of the mythical creatures of the ocean has been found deep down in the waters off Tasmania.

The giant squid have been discovered caught in the nets of trawlers.

So little is known about what lurks deep down below the oceans it's possible seafarers several hundred years ago knew more than we do.
Liz Turner
Sailors of centuries ago told tales of being attacked by beasts whose tentacles could rip a man apart.

Incredibly, the latest finds mean the ancient tales can no longer be dismissed as the work of superstitious scaremongerers.

David Pemberton of the Museum of Tasmania says: "I don't think it's beyond the realms of possibility.

"All the creatures we have brought up are dead, killed by the rapidly changing pressure.

"But it does make you wonder how they could have made those drawings so long ago unless they had actually seen them."

Twenty metres long

The specimens the scientists are working on are giant squid which weigh a quarter of a ton and measure twenty metres in length when fully grown.

Squid definition
Any elongated fast-swimming cephalopod mollusc with eight arms and two long tentacles
Hardly anything is known about these creatures, whose capacity for growth is extraordinary. They begin life the size of a matchstick and grow to full size within three to four years.

Liz Turner of the Museum of Tasmania says: "There's no doubt that squid are prepared to attack the largest of prey, including sperm whales."

giant No storage space for giant squid
Strange and exotic creatures have been plucked out of the Tasmania waters for years, adding to the list of fishermen's tales.

But this the first time those tales are being subjected to the strictest scientific scrutiny.

Now the least of the challenges is how to store the three giant specimens which they have frozen down ready for further study.

The giant squid are not the only amazing things found in recent months. There is also a three-metre long pregnant calamari.

Liz Turner said: "So little is known about what lurks deep down below the oceans it's possible seafarers several hundred years ago knew more than we do."

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