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BAS biologist, Amanda Lynnes
"It took two of us to pick it up"
 real 28k

Monday, 3 July, 2000, 08:33 GMT 09:33 UK
Big squid breaks record
Kondakovia is a highly-developed predator
By BBC News Online's Dr Damian Carrington

The biggest ever complete specimen of a secretive squid has been found in Antarctica.

The cephalopod stretched 230 centimetres (7.5 feet) from the hooks on its hunting tentacles to its tail, and weighed nearly 30 kilograms (66 lbs).

The squid have fantastic muscular nerves, so its tentacles started flopping around when I was dissecting it

Amanda Lynnes

It was rescued by a British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientist from a flock of giant petrels who were about to devour the washed up carcass.

The find will lead to a better understanding of the creature's role in the Southern Ocean ecosystem. BAS studies inform the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, which is charged with the effective management of krill, fish and squid fisheries.

Big breakfast

BAS biologist Amanda Lynnes made the discovery in April this year and will be presenting a paper on her find at Aberdeen University later this week.

"I was looking out the window checking the weather when I noticed a group of giant petrels squabbling over something on the beach. My colleagues and I got very excited when we realised it was a huge squid," she said.

Amanda Lyness dissected the squid
"The first thing we saw were the tentacles. The birds backed off and then we waded in and hauled it out."

The squid, Kondakovia longimana, was measured and photographed, and its beak was removed.

This hard mouthpiece, similar to parrot's beak, is usually the only evidence found of the squid.

"They live deep under the sea and are good at escaping capture techniques," Ms Lynnes told BBC News Online.

Size matters

The beaks are usually recovered from the vomit of the squid's predators: wandering albatross, sperm whales and elephant seals.

Squid are a crucial part of the Antarctic food chain, with about 34 million tonnes eaten each year. The species usually called the Giant Squid is Architeuthis and can grow up to 18 metres long (60 feet).

The size of squid has been estimated by scientist from their beaks. But this new, much larger find allows them to recalibrate the way they do this for Kondakovia and make more accurate estimates.

The whole specimen could not be brought back to the UK, when the base closed for the winter, explained Ms Lynnes: "So we left it for the petrels to finish their breakfast."

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