List of giant squid specimens and sightings

This list of giant squid specimens and sightings is a comprehensive listing of all recorded human encounters with members of the genus "Architeuthis", popularly known as giant squid. It includes animals caught by fishermen, found stranded ashore, recovered (in whole or in part) from Sperm Whales and other predatory species, as well as confirmed giant squid sightings at sea. The list also covers specimens incorrectly assigned to the genus "Architeuthis" in original descriptions or later publications.

The list generally follows " [ Records of "Architeuthis" Specimens from Published Reports] " compiled by Michael J. Sweeney, with additional information taken from other sources (see References).

Number of specimens

According to Guerra "et al." (2006), 592 confirmed giant squid specimens were known as of the end of 2004. Of these, 306 came from the Atlantic Ocean, 264 from the Pacific Ocean, 20 from the Indian Ocean, and 2 from the Mediterranean Sea.

The figures for specimens collected in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans further break down as follows: 126 in the northwestern Atlantic, 148 in the northeastern Atlantic, 6 in the southwestern Atlantic, 26 in the southeastern Atlantic, 28 in the northwestern Pacific, 43 in the northeastern Pacific, 183 in the southwestern Pacific, and 10 in the southeastern Pacific.

Maximum size

Giant squid size, and particularly total length, has often been misreported and exaggerated. Reports of specimens reaching or even exceeding 18 metres (59 feet) in length are widespread, but no animals approaching this size have been scientifically documented. Such lengths were likely achieved by great lengthening of the two long feeding tentacles, analogous to stretching elastic bands (O'Shea, 2003).

Based on the examination of 130 specimens as well as beaks recovered from Sperm Whales, the giant squid is not known to attain a mantle length (ML) in excess of 2.25 m (7.4 ft) (O'Shea, 2003). Including the head and arms, but excluding the tentacles, "Architeuthis" very rarely exceeds 5 m (16 ft) in length (O'Shea, 2003). Maximum total length, when measured relaxed "post mortem", is estimated at 13 m (43 ft) for females and 10 m (33 ft) for males from caudal fin to the tip of the two long tentacles (O'Shea, 2003).

Giant squid exhibit sexual dimorphism. Maximum weight is estimated at 275 kg for females and 150 kg for males (O'Shea, 2003).

List of giant squid

Records are listed chronologically in descending order and numbered accordingly. Specimens incorrectly assigned to the genus "Architeuthis" are not counted and are instead denoted with an asterisk (*) and highlighted in pink. Records that cover multiple giant squid specimens, or remains of more than a single animal (e.g. two lower beaks), are highlighted in grey.

*Date – Date on which the specimen was first captured, found, or observed. In cases where this is unknown, the date the specimen was first reported is listed instead and noted as such.
*Location – Area where the specimen was found. Given as it appears in the cited references, except where additional information is provided in brackets.
*Oceanic sector – The quadrant of a major ocean in which the specimen was found (see Oceanic sectors).
*Method of capture – Method by which the specimen was recovered or observed. Given as it appears in the cited references, although "washed ashore" encompasses all stranded animals.
*Identification – Species or genus level taxon to which the specimen was originally assigned. Given as it appears in the cited references. Listed chronologically if specimen was re-identified.
*Material cited – Original specimen material that was recovered or observed.
*Material saved – Material that was kept after examination and not discarded (if any).
*Sex – Sex and sexual maturity of the specimen.
*Size and measurements – Data relating to measurements and counts. Abbreviations used are based on standardised acronyms in teuthology (see Measurements), with the exception of several found in older references. Measurements are given as they appear in the cited references (original units are preserved).
*Repository – Institution in which the specimen material is deposited. The acronyms used are those defined by Leviton "et al." (1985) and Leviton & Gibbs (1988) (see Repositories). Where the acronym is unknown, the full repository name is listed.
*Cited references – Sources that provide specific data on a particular specimen.
*Additional references – Sources which merely refer to the specimen.
*Notes – Miscellaneous information.

Note: Names of anatomical features are retained from original sources (e.g. "jaws" may be given instead of the preferred "beak").


The following abbreviations are used in the "List of giant squid" table.

Oceanic sectors

The Atlantic Ocean is divided into sectors at the equator and 30°W, the Pacific Ocean is divided at the equator and 180°, and the Indian Ocean is defined as the range 20°E - 115°E.

*NWA, Northwest Atlantic Ocean
*NEA, Northeast Atlantic Ocean
*SWA, Southwest Atlantic Ocean
*SEA, Southeast Atlantic Ocean
*NWP, Northwest Pacific Ocean
*NEP, Northeast Pacific Ocean
*SWP, Southwest Pacific Ocean
*SEP, Southeast Pacific Ocean
*NIO, Northern Indian Ocean (no reported specimens)
*SIO, Southern Indian Ocean
*MED, Mediterranean Sea


Abbreviations used for measurements and counts are based on standardised acronyms in teuthology, primarily those defined by Roper & Voss (1983), with the exception of several found in older references.

*AC, arm circumference (AC(I), AC(II), AC(III) and AC(IV) refer to measurements of specific arm pairs)
*AD, arm diameter
*AF, arm formula
*AL, arm length (AL(I), AL(II), AL(III) and AL(IV) refer to measurements of specific arm pairs)
*ASC, arm sucker count
*ASD, arm sucker diameter
*BC, body circumference (assumed to mean greatest circumference of mantle unless otherwise specified)
*BD, body diameter (assumed to mean greatest diameter of mantle)
*BL, body length (usually equivalent to mantle length, as head length is often given separately)
*CaL, carpus length
*CL, club length (usually refers to expanded portion at the apex of tentacle)
*CSC, club sucker count
*CSD, club sucker diameter (usually largest) [usually equivalent to LSD]
*DC, dactylus club length
*EC, egg count
*ED, egg diameter
*EL, "entire" length (end of tentacle(s), often stretched, to posterior tip of tail; in contrast to WL, measured from end of "arms" to posterior tip of tail)
*EyD, eye diameter
*FL, fin length
*FuCL, funnel cartilage length
*FuCW, funnel cartilage width
*FuL, funnel length
*FuO, funnel opening diameter
*FW, fin width
*GiL, gill length
*GL, gladius (pen) length
*GW, gladius (pen) width
*G(W), daily growth rate (%)
*HC, head circumference
*HeL, hectocotylus length
*HL, head length (most often base of arms to edge of mantle)
*HW, head width
*LAL, longest arm length
*LRL, lower rostral length of beak
*LSD, largest sucker diameter (on tentacle club) [usually equivalent to CSD]
*MaL, manus length
*ML, dorsal mantle length (used only where stated as such)
*MT, mantle thickness
*MW, maximum mantle width (used only where stated as such)
*NGL, nidamental gland length
*PL, penis length
*SInc, number of statolith increments
*SL, spermatophore length
*SoA, spermatophores on arms
*SSL, spermatophore sac length
*TaL, tail length
*TC, tentacle circumference (most often of tentacle stalk)
*TCL, tentacle club length
*TD, tentacle diameter (most often of tentacle stalk)
*TL, tentacle length
*TSD, tentacle sucker diameter (usually largest)
*URL, upper rostral length of beak
*VML, ventral mantle length
*WL, "whole" length (end of arms, often damaged, to posterior tip of tail; in contrast to EL, measured from end of "tentacles" to posterior tip of tail)
*WT, weight


Institutional acronyms are those defined by Leviton "et al." (1985) and Leviton & Gibbs (1988). Where the acronym is unknown, the full repository name is listed.

*AMS, Australian Museum, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
*BMNH, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, England (formerly British Museum (Natural History))
*EI, Essex Institute, Salem, Massachusetts, United States
*FOSJ, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
*ICM, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar, Barcelona, Spain
*MCNOPM, Museo de Ciencias Naturales de Puerto Madryn (Museum of Natural Sciences and Oceanography), Puerto Madryn, Argentina
*MHNLR, Museum d'Histoire Naturelle, La Rochelle, France
*MHNN, Museum d'Histoire Naturelle (Musee Barla), Nice, France
*MMF, Museu Municipal do Funchal, Funchal, Madeira
*MNHN, Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France
*MOM, Musee Oceanographique, Monaco
*MUDB, Department of Biology, Memorial University, Newfoundland, Canada
*NIWA, National Institute of Water and Atmosphere, Wellington, New Zealand
*NMI, National Museum of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
*NMML, National Marine Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, Washington, United States
*NMNH, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, District of Columbia, United States
*NMNZ, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand (formerly Colonial Museum; Dominion Museum)
*NMSZ, National Museum of Scotland, Zoology Department, Edinburgh, Scotland (formerly Royal Museum of Scotland; formerly Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh)
*NMSJ, Newfoundland Museum, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
*NMV, Museum of Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (formerly National Museum of Victoria)
*NSMC, Nova Scotia Museum, Halifax, Canada
*PASS, Peabody Academy of Science, Salem, Massachusetts, United States (now in Peabody Museum of Salem?)
*RSMAS, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Miami, Florida, United States
*SAM, South African Museum, Cape Town, South Africa
*SAMA, South Australian Museum, North Terrace, Adelaide, Australia
*SBMNH, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara, California, United States
*VSM, Det Kgl. Norske Videnskabers Selskab Museet, Trondheim, Norway
*YPM, Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States
*ZMB, Zoologisches Museum, Museum für Naturkunde der Humboldt-Universitat,Berlin, Germany
*ZMMGU, Zoological Museum, Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
*ZMUB, Universitetet i Bergen, Bergen, Norway
*ZMUC, Kobenhavns Universitet, Zoologisk Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark


The number directly below each image corresponds to the specimen or sighting, in the "List of giant squid", that the image depicts. The date on which the specimen was first captured, found, or observed is also given. More detailed information for each image is available in the form of a mouseover.


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