Friday, April 17, 2009

Georgia Aquarium Displays Creature from the Deep: Giant Squid to Debut at World's Largest Aquarium

Guests of the Georgia Aquarium will now have the opportunity to see a mysterious creature from the deep. The Aquarium will feature a well-preserved giant squid (Architeuthis dux) in the Cold Water Quest Gallery, presented by Georgia-Pacific. The giant squid is on loan from the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.

The giant squid was discovered dead on a beach at the Plum Island National Wildlife Refuge in Mass., north of Boston, in 1980. Its long feeding tentacles were missing, and most of the tips of its arms were broken off. But otherwise, the specimen was in good condition. After being examined, it was determined that while alive, the animal was maroon in color, nearly 30 feet long and weighed approximately 450 pounds. It is now cased in a specially constructed nine-foot-long wood and fiber glass container, covered with a plastic window.

This giant squid has not been on display for more than four years at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. It was originally displayed at the New England Aquarium and was given to the Smithsonian as a gift in 1982. It could be on display at the Georgia Aquarium for up to two years.

Giant squid are deep-ocean dwelling animals and can grow to tremendous size. The most recent estimates for length are an estimated 43 feet for females and 33 feet for males. Prior to 2004, no one had captured a giant squid on camera in its natural habitat. In 2004, a team of scientists took the first still images of a giant squid, and the same team successfully filmed a giant squid in its natural habitat in 2006. By displaying the animal in Atlanta, the Georgia Aquarium hopes to introduce guests to this rarely-seen creature.
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