Imagine you’re out for a blissful swim, trying to catch a glimpse of some beautiful whales. The sun is shining, the water feels refreshing, and, uh oh, something just brushed past your leg.
Something slimy, something slithery, something really, really big. A giant squid has decided you’re its next meal. How did a giant squid get the drop on you?
Are you going to be next on the dinner menu? And how can your measly two arms take on eight?
Giant squids are one of the ocean’s most enduring mysteries. They live in the deepest waters of the ocean and are rarely seen by humans. In fact, most of the stuff we do know about them is from dead carcasses that wash onto shore.
Like its smaller relatives, the giant squid has two eyes, a beak, eight arms, two feeding tentacles, and a siphon. All stuff you don’t want swimming up against you. Giant squids mostly eat deepwater fishes and other squids, including going full-on Hannibal Lecter and eating their own kind.
And they do not mess around. In fact, they’re known to attack entire schools of fish from below. Once they grab a meal with the suckers on their feeding tentacles, they drag the prey down to their sharp beak. This cuts the prey into more manageable pieces.
And as if you weren’t already too scared to ever go swimming again, they start doing even more damage. The giant squid then uses its radula, which is like a tongue covered with teeth. This slices and dices the prey up into even tinier bite-sized pieces. Dinner is served.
Maybe you should get out of the water. Like, right now!
If you’re unlucky enough to be hunted by a giant squid, I’ve got some bad news for you. The giant squid’s sheer size, strength, speed, and hunting abilities would make it so extremely difficult to escape.
The first stealthy move it would make is attacking you from below. Horrifying, right? Well, it gets worse.
The giant squid probably isn’t going to devour you right then and there. It’s going to drag you into deep water where it feels safe from its own predators. Because it’s so fast, you would definitely struggle with the changing pressure, and your eardrums would certainly burst.
This speedy whiplash may also break some of your bones from the giant squid holding you so tight. If you’re somehow not dead from being gripped and scraped by the feeding tentacles, the giant squid would use all of its arms to bring you to its beak.
If you’re at this stage, the hope of escape is pretty non-existent. The giant squid is using all of its strength to pull you in for dinner.
And I know it’s a bad time to say this but, it won’t be a quick death. You see, giant squids have a bit of a gag reflex problem, so they’re going to eat you nice and slow. This is it. You close your eyes and prepare to be squid food.
Wait, what’s that sound? Oh yeah! Your buddy the sperm whale has come to the rescue.
Now, giant squids don’t have much in the way of predators, but sperm whales? Yeah, they stay away from those guys. Researchers have found giant squid beaks in the stomachs of sperm whales, and battle wounds from giant suckers on their bodies. This means that your new best friend has a taste for super-sized calamari.
The giant squid isn’t going down without a fight though and will go toe-to-toe with the sperm whale. Now, I know it would be super cool to watch, but I think you’re forgetting something.
YOU’RE STILL UNDERWATER.
If by some miracle you make it back to land in one piece, you’re going to have quite the story to tell. It’s a shame no one will ever believe you.
This is because giant squid sightings, let alone attacks, are so rare. We still have so much to learn about them. There could be millions of them lurking in the deep waters and we wouldn’t even know.
And well beyond them, there could be tons of other creatures lurking in unexplored parts of the ocean. The good news is, it can’t get any worse than a giant squid, right?
Oh geez, I really have to stop jinxing myself. What if the Kraken was real? Well, that’s a story for another WHAT IF.
- “Could a squid take down a submarine?”. MARIA TRIMARCHI Howstuffworks.
- “Giant Squid”. 2018. Smithsonian Ocean.
- “Are Massive Squid Really The Sea Monsters Of Legend?”. Hogenboom, Melissa. 2020. bbc.com.
- “Why Giant Squid, The Once Mythical Kraken Of The Deep, Are Still Mystifying Scientists 150 Years After They Were Discovered”. 2020. Business Insider.
- “Mysterious scars on Hawaiian shark could be sign of giant squid attack”. Writer, Brandon. 2020. livescience.com.