THE LARGEST OCTOPUS EVER SEEN?

27 MAR 02: THE LARGEST
OCTOPUS EVER SEEN?

This giant squid (measuring
8 meters or about 26 feet) was hauled up from the same area in 1996.


 

Giant octopus caught off New Zealand

March 28, 2002 Posted: 11:07
AM EST (1607 GMT)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Reuters)
– Scientists have identified what they


believe is the largest octopus
ever seen, a four-meter (13-foot) long giant


hauled from the depths near
New Zealand’s remote Chatham Islands.


    The dead
specimen, caught in a trawler’s net, was badly damaged but it was


clearly a massive animal,
said National Institute of Water and Atmospheric


Research (NIWA) marine biologist
Steve O’Shea.


    “It would
easily have been four-plus meters (about 13 feet) in total length and

a weight of 70-75 kilograms
(154-165 pounds), if not more — it’s a very big


octopus, the size of a fully
mature male giant squid.”


    O’Shea
had provisionally identified the specimen, caught at a depth of more than


3,000 feet (900 meters),
as Haliphron Atlanticus, a bright red, jelly-like


species of octopus not previously
found in the South Pacific.


    Juveniles
of the species had been found in shallow northern waters, with adults


believed to live at a depth
of around 250 meters so the discovery was unusual,


he said.

    “It’s
extremely deep, it’s extremely large, it’s the first recorded in the South


Pacific, it may not even
be the species we’ve attributed to it at this point in


time — I’ve got a lot more
work to do on it.”


    People
had been amazed when he relayed the details of the creature, O’Shea said.


    “But
down here in New Zealand, this is an area which is so poorly explored that


its not surprising that
we’re getting all these weird and wonderful animals.


    “The
frightening thing is that we are getting an animal like this newly reported

in New Zealand waters today
… so new and large, you’ve got to sit down and ask


yourself ‘What is it we
know about the deep sea environment?’,” O’Shea said.


    Octopuses
are one of the most diverse creatures on earth, with several hundred


species worldwide and more
than 40 species found in New Zealand waters alone.


    The Chathams
are a windswept group of islands around 530 miles (850 kilometers)


east of Christchurch, home
to around 800 people engaged in sheep farming and


fishing.