Rare giant squid caught off County Kerry coast

image copyrightRTÉ
image captionThe arms and tentacles account for much of the squid's great length

A deep sea monster has surfaced in County Kerry.

An extremely rare giant squid, which measures 5.8m (20ft) long, was landed by fishermen off the coast of Dingle on Monday.

The cephalopod catch is the first in 22 years and only the fifth documented sighting of the squid in Irish waters.

Marine Biologist Kevin Flannery described the specimen as a "legend of the sea".

"It's something rare, something wonderful and something unusual," Mr Flannery told BBC Radio Foyle.

"These things have been legends of the sea, when the trawl comes up and this 20ft arm comes out and sticks on to you - you'd get a bad fright!"

image copyrightKevin Flannery
image captionGiant squid can grow to a tremendous size

The squid was caught by fisherman Pete Flannery (no relation to Kevin), skipper of the Cú na Mara, near the Porcupine Basin, about 120 miles off the Dingle coast.

Incidentally, it was Mr Flannery's father who caught two other giant squid in the same waters, in 1995.

If you're counting, that makes the Flannerys responsible for landing 60% of all known giant squid in Ireland since 1673.

"His father caught two of them back in 1995, so maybe they're attached to them or something like that but I think it's to do with the area in which they fish," said Kevin Flannery.

image copyrightRTÉ
image captionStudies show the squid is a very powerful swimmer

Mr Flannery, who is director of Dingle's Ocean world Aquarium and the Explore Us Aquarium in Portaferry, said the current specimen will now be scientifically studied.

"Squid don't have a long lifespan, so obviously they must reproduce rapidly and have quite a number of offspring," he said.

"You can learn their growth patterns, what they feed on, what their size ratio is, if they're pregnant, what sex they are and we also keep some for DNA purposes as well to see if they're related to species off the coast of South Africa.

"I hope to bring some part of it (the squid) up to the aquarium up in Portaferry and let people see the suckers, because they have hundreds of these sucker nail type cutting discs that they attach to the great whales."

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