Release the kraken! Odds are, you've heard of the amazing giant squid. For thousands of years, they've populated the stories of many seafaring cultures, and in more modern times, infiltrated blockbuster movies. But where do the terrifying myths end and the illuminating truths begin? Despite how much society has learned over the last 100 years, there's still a great deal of facts we don't know about the real-life kraken. Only a handful of dead specimens have been found, and even fewer live ones have been observed in the wild.
What we do know is both fascinating and frightening. While one of these creatures probably won't be taking down any large boats, they do get into fights with whales and have been known to win a bout or two. We also know that once they have you in their grasp, it's impossible to escape. There are plenty amazing giant squid facts; the most amazing of all, though, is they are real.
They Have The Largest Eyes In The World
They may be the biggest invertebrates in the world, but the giant squid holds another record: largest eyes of any living creature. How big are they, you ask? The size of basketballs. The pupil alone was 3.5 inches across. Unlike human eyes, they aren't full of a gelatinous substance. They're filled with water, so when they die the eyes collapse on itself like a crumpled plastic bag. Scientists believe the eyes evolved to see large objects far away, in this case that would make them ideal for avoiding predators.
Sperm Whales Are Their Worst EnemyVideo: YouTube
While you might think the giant squid, with its huge size, would be an apex predator without rival, it's really not. It still has a cause to be afraid: the sperm whale. Believe it or not, one of the first "sightings" of the giant squid was actually tentacles found in the belly of a sperm whale. Beached sperm whales have also been found with sucker marks all over their skin - possibly caused by a battle with its food. In fact, the enormous eyes possessed by the squid most likely evolved to spot a sperm whale in the dark depths of the ocean.
Giant squids live deep in the ocean, so their food sources are limited to what else lives at that depth. Although not many whole specimens have been found, scientists have performed dissections of the ones they could get their hands on and discovered the contents of their stomach. Fish and small squids were found, but more interestingly, that there was evidence of other giant squids in the specimen's stomach. This could suggest they're cannibals, though how often this occurs is a mystery.
Giant Squids Can Take Aim At Their Prey And Predict Their Movements
Edith Widder of the Ocean Research & Conservation Association had to completely reinvent the approach of hunting down giant squid. After realizing the electric thrusters of submersible cameras were driving away squids, she created a battered-operated camera that also functioned as a lure. The lure emitted blue light to mimic a jellyfish. It took hours of work and more than a few attempts, but the lure eventually attracted a giant squid. They learned that the squid can aim - it shot its tentacles out at where the lure was going to be rather than where it was at that moment.