FACTBOX-Giant squid, the world's largest invertebrate

Japanese scientists have taken the first photographs of one of the most mysterious creatures in the deep ocean - the giant squid.

Here are some facts about the elusive marine molluscs:

  • Giant squids (genus Architeuthis) are the world's largest invertebrates, weighing up to 900kg.

  • Females can measure up to 18 metres in length but males are considerably smaller, rarely exceeding nine metres.

  • The eyes of the giant squid are the largest in the animal kingdom, growing up to 25 cm in diameter.

  • They live in the oceans at depths of between 200 and 1 000 metres. Their diet consists mainly of fish and other squids. Giant squids are preyed on by sperm whales and the Pacific reef shark.

  • Giant squids are equipped with eight arms and two tentacles, which are used to find food and fight off predators.

  • The remains of 250 giant squids found dead or dying have been documented around the world over the last 150 years. No giant squid has ever been caught alive.

  • They have been depicted as sea monsters in films such as Reap the Wild Wind (1942) and Dr No (1958). Captain Nemo, the protagonist of Jules Verne's novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), fights off an attack by a giant squid.

    Sources: Reuters; Smithsonian Institution (www.si.edu); Discovery Channel (http://dsc.discovery.com)

  • Compiled by Editorial Reference Unit researchers in Bangalore