Giant squid provides “teachable moment”

The five-metre-long giant squid found on Farewell Spit. Photo: Brent Hartshorne.

The five-metre-long giant squid found on Farewell Spit. Photo: Brent Hartshorne.

A five-metre-long giant squid washed up near Fossil Point became an educational tool this week before being shipped by DOC in a refrigerated truck to national squid and octopus expert Steve O'Shea at the Auckland University of Technology.
All three primary schools turned up to have a look before the dead mollusc was shipped off.
"In between the pickup and send-off we invited the schools, who took advantage of the opportunity and the kids were all pretty excited about it, having a whole lot of questions about the life of a squid. The biggest one ever found was in Wellington-it was 16 metres long.," said DOC's Golden Bay biodiversity manager Hans Stoffregen.
Motupipi School principal Mark Cullen praised DOC for providing the students with a "teachable moment" and Bickleys for the immediate assistance with transportation, saying "when the opportunity arises you just have to grab it by the scruff.
"Bickleys are fantastic; at a moment's notice they rearranged everything to come and pick us up. You can show the children photos and books but if they can actually see something, they can put it into perspective and they learn so much better visually."
Chris Pomeroy, co-owner of Farewell Spit Nature Tours, found the huge mollusc washed up on the beach.
"None of the people on my bus had ever seen one before and they were quite taken by it. It was great to see all the kids around it and really cool to see how the kids were getting a buzz out of it. This is really what our tours are about-to educate people about the life [even if it's dead] on the Spit."
The wobbly deep-sea calamari weighed in at about 200kg. It is the fourth specimen found here over the last decade.
Giant squid migrate in midwinter to New Zealand's West Coast to breed and spawn, and then die after completing their mission. This specimen was possibly a female, which are larger than the males. After a phenomenal growth spurt, giant squids reach maturity after only one-and-a-half years, and have a short life span of only five to six years.
Ina Holst

Thursday 23 October 2008 

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