Tourists on a New Zealand beach are stunned by a giant squid corpse with half-eaten tentacles.

Giant Squid Corpse
A half-buried giant squid on the beach at Farewell Spit nature reserve in New Zealand.

The giant squid (Architeuthis dux), one of the deep sea’s most elusive and spectacular creatures, recently astounded a group of tourists after washing up as a half-eaten corpse on a New Zealand beach. The chance discovery was described as a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience by the tour guide who was leading the group at the time.

The colossal cephalopod, which has a mantle about 13 feet (4 meters) long, was discovered on the beach at Farewell Spit, a nature reserve in the north of South Island, on September 9. Farewell Spit Tours’ lone guide discovered the remains, which were half buried in sand, and quickly alerted a nearby tour group to come and take a look.

After deviating to examine the squid’s corpse, the group spent time admiring the incredible animal and taking photos next to the rare remains.

“It’s not a common find on any beach, so if you’re lucky enough to be there at the right time, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Farewell Spit Tours guide Anton Donaldson told The New Zealand Herald (opens in new tab). But seeing such a “magnificent example of a large sea creature” dead on the land was also disheartening, he added.

Giant squids are the second-largest squid in the world’s oceans, second only to the colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni), and can grow to be 43 feet (13 meters) long. The massive cephalopods thought to be the real-life inspiration for the mythological sea creature known as the “Kraken,” live in deep water more than 2,950 feet (900 meters) below the surface and are rarely seen in the wild.

The length of the dead squid’s entire body is unknown because most of its tentacles were either missing or buried beneath the sand.

“It appeared that [the tentacles] had been chewed back by other sea creatures, such as small sharks or fish,” Donaldson explained. “I don’t know for sure, but I imagine it washed up after floating out there for a while.”

According to The New Zealand Herald, the tour company notified New Zealand’s Department of Conservation about the beached squid, and the agency will likely attempt to retrieve the remains so they can be studied.

For most people, seeing a giant squid up close is a “once in a lifetime” experience, but the remains of the deep-sea giants have beached on Farewell Spit before. In total, at least six dead giant squids have washed up on the nature reserve’s beaches in the last 30 years, according to an email from a Farewell Spit Tours representative to Live Science.

Another tour group discovered a fully intact giant squid measuring 18 feet (5.5 m) long on the same stretch of beach in 2019, according to Farewell Spit Tours representatives in a statement(opens in new tab) at the time.

Another location where dead giant squids have been found is South Africa. An 11.5-foot-long (3.5-meter) specimen washed up near Kommetjie in April, and a 14-foot-long (4.3-meter) squid was discovered on a beach near Cape Town in August.

Giant Squid Corpse
Tourists snapped pictures next to the giant squid corpse

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