Giant squid

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

A giant squid surfaced in Toyama Bay harbour (300km west of Tokyo) on Christmas eve, 2015. A species that is rarely observed at the surface, this animal was a juvenile of around three and half metres in length, most likely in poor health and unlikely to survive.

Video by Takayoshi Kojima

The giant squid is the second-largest mollusc only exceeded in size by the colossal squid. Poorly documented in comparison to their smaller relatives they are are a widespread species, although rare in tropical and polar latitudes, with a vertical distribution of perhaps between 300 – 1000m, largely based on data from trawled specimens and sperm whale diving behaviour.

Known since ancient times (mentioned by Aristotle) mainly from mariner’s tales and the occasional beachings it wasn’t until 2004 that a well preserved specimen was available for study and, around the same time, the first images of live specimens were captured.

It has been suggested that there may be as many as eight species of giant squid but based on the latest DNA evidence it seems likely that there is only a single species –
Architeuthis dux Steenstrup, 1857.


Architeuthis – Greek, Archi-, arxi- (αρχι), chief, principal, first in authority or order (post-classical); -teuthis (τευθις), squid, cuttlefish. Loosely speaking – first squid over all other squid.
dux – Latin, commander, ruler, leader, chief, head.