For hundreds of years, Norwegian sailors feared the kraken, said to be a huge, tentacled creature as big as 10 ships. But in the 1850s, the creature that inspired that legendary monster was finally revealed, thanks to a giant beak that washed up on Denmark’s coast. But it wasn’t before 2006 that researchers filmed a giant squid for the first time.
These terrifying creatures live more than 1,000 m (3,300 ft) deep in the ocean, called the midnight zone. There, they eat fish and other squids. The largest specimen captured so far is a 13 m (43 ft) long female. But because of the huge squid beaks found in whales’ stomachs, scientists believe that giant squids can reach 20 m (66 ft) long.
They have two huge feeding tentacles that can catch you from 10 m (33 ft) away. Their eight strong arms are weapons, with thousands of sharp-toothed suckers that can pull you to the squid’s hard beak. Then it will cut you into little bites. Oh, and it’ll take its time enjoying your tasty meat. You’re going to be dinner, unless you keep watching.
Can you dive deep enough to find one? Could you swim fast enough to escape? Is there any creature it is afraid of?
Step 1: Mind your own business
Yes, they live in waters over 1,000 m (3,300 ft) deep, but they venture up to 300 m (1,000 ft) below the surface, where humans actually dive. So you’d better stay away from those depths. Like octopuses, squids can change color to blend in with their surroundings, so you may not see them. Also, squid can swim at over 40 km/h (25 mph). That’s five times faster than Olympic champion Michael Phelps. So your best chance of surviving a giant squid attack is to stay well away.
Step 2: Wear armor
The powerful suckers on a giant squid’s arms and feeding tentacles are armed with sharp teeth that can rip your skin. Can you see the scars on this sperm whale? Yup, that was from a giant squid attack. So, if you’re planning to dive into squid territory, it’s a good idea to wear chain mail. That’ll help to protect you from those slashing suckers.
But chain mail won’t save you from the beak’s extreme pressure. In 2010, scientists inserted a Kevlar plate into a giant squid’s beak to measure the strength of its bite. The squid tore the Kevlar plate in half. And that Kevlar plate was 20 times stronger than steel.
Step 3: Anchor In
If a giant squid grabs you, it will try to pull you deeper into the ocean, where it feels safer. Scott Cassel experienced this when he was filming Humboldt squid, called Red Devils, off the coast of La Paz, Mexico. One squid attacked his arm, and it pulled so hard that it dislocated Scott’s shoulder.
It also broke his wrist in five places, and bit his head, exposing his skull to the ocean’s saltwater. The squid started pulling him down so fast that one of his eardrums burst, causing him extreme pain. So, tie yourself tightly to the boat if you don’t want to end up on the bottom of the ocean.
Step 4: Fight
Even if you’re tethered to your ship, if a giant squid grabs you, you’re close to death. Your only chance is to fight back. When two Humboldt squids were pulling him down, even though Scott was seriously injured, he fought for his life. He hit the squid with his injured arm and the underwater camera.
When the squid released him, Scott harnessed the moment and swam back to his boat. So, punch as hard as you can. And can go for the eyes, as they are as big as dinner plates, about 30 cm (1 ft) wide. A giant squid’s eyes are very sensitive. So if you get the chance, give a good sting to the eyes. That will help convince the squid to release you.
Step 5: Pray for a whale
This giant squid attacks so hard, and so fast, that it doesn’t give you a chance to get away. You’re exhausted, and you can only pray for a miracle. Wait. What is that? It’s a huge sperm whale, the giant squid’s worst nightmare. These wonderful giants can hold their breath for 90 minutes, and they dive deep enough to catch giant squid for dinner.
Suddenly, the squid releases you, so it can defend itself from the attacking whale. You can swim back to the surface, but don’t go too fast. You could get decompression sickness, called “the bends.”
- “Decompression Sickness – Harvard Health”. Harvard Health.
- “Diver vs. Squid | Man-Eating Super Squid: Monster Invasion”. 2021. youtube.com.
- “Diver mauled by GIANT man-eating squid in horror clip”. Drewett, Zoe. 2016. dailystar.co.uk.
- “No one knows for sure how long they live for, how they find partners, how they migrate, where they lay their eggs, or even if they make any sounds. To put it bluntly, the giant squid remains a mystery.”. 2021. Business Insider.
- “How far does light travel in the ocean?”. 2021. oceanservice.noaa.gov.
- “The Speed Of Human Swimming | Livestrong.Com”. 2021. livestrong.com.