Giant Squid Washes Up On New Zealand Beach After Mysterious Death

A giant squid washed up on a beach on New Zealand’s South Island earlier this week, surprising onlookers and delighting scientists at the Kaikoura Marine Centre and Aquarium, which has collected it for study.

The bulk of the animal’s body — called its mantle — measures more than 6 feet long, with its longest tentacles measuring nearly 16 and a half feet. From tip to tail, reports the New Zealand Herald, the squid is an eye-popping 23 feet long.

Each of the creature’s eyes is 3.15 inches wide, reports ABC.

Megan Lewis, a marine biologist who owns the aquarium that collected the squid, told The Marlborough Express the animal was a mature female, though she was unsure of its age or even why it ended up on the beach.

“There are no clear signs of death,” Lewis told The Huffington Post in an email, “no markings on the outside, full stomach, no foreign objects.”

“She was still fresh and with all her parts including her eyes still intact,” Lewis added. “It suggests that she didn’t come from very far away. Somewhere close by. And the fact that they are present so close to land … is so exciting to think about!”

While 23 feet is certainly impressive, the largest giant squid ever found was a massive 59 feet long and weighed nearly a ton, National Geographic reports.

The aquarium has the animal on display in a windowed freezer, with samples bound for the University of Auckland and University of Otago for research.

Not much is known about giant squids as they’re rarely studied in a lab, much less seen in the wild. A giant squid in its own habitat wasn’t captured on video until 2013.

Photos of the giant squid in New Zealand:

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