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Giant squid: from the deep sea to display

The giant squid is a rare and elusive creature, once thought only to exist in stories of sea monsters called krakens. But in 2004, the Museum was offered a nearly complete specimen caught at a depth of 220 metres.

Curator Jon Ablett takes up the tale in the film above.

At 8.62 metres long, the specimen was a challenge to preserve and house, but it was too good an opportunity to miss.

Most other known remains of giant squid are fragments washed up on beaches or found in the stomach contents of sperm whales.

When the Museum specimen was accidentally caught by a fishing trawler it was immediately frozen.

This meant that DNA samples could be taken before decay set in. In 2013, these helped to prove that there is just one species of giant squid: Architeuthis dux.

Behind-the-Scenes Spirit Collection Tours

Discover the mysteries of our spirit collection and tank room with a guided tour, new dates available now.