IMAGE: Colossal Squid
New Zealand Fisheries via AP
This huge squid was caught in early February in the Ross Sea off Antarctica. It was weighed at 990 pounds, which if confirmed on shore would break the earlier record by 330 pounds.
updated 3/22/2007 11:29:28 AM ET 2007-03-22T15:29:28

A colossal half-ton squid, believed to be the largest ever caught, may be destined for the microwave oven.

But researchers say they don’t want to cook the massive creature — just defrost it so they can study it better.

Scientists at New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, have taken possession of the beast that took fishermen two hours to land after it was netted by chance in Antarctic waters last month and was frozen soon afterward to preserve it.

Expert Steve O’Shea said the squid had weighed in at 1,089 pounds and measured 33 feet long — heavier but shorter than initial estimates of 990 pounds and 39 feet.

It appears to be by far the largest specimen of the rare and mysterious deep-water species Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, or colossal squid, ever caught.

IMAGE: Colossal Squid
New Zealand Fisheries via AP
A New Zealand fisherman shows off the colossal squid.
Experts say the creatures, which have long been one of the most mysterious denizens of the deep ocean, may grow even bigger — up to 46 feet long.

Aggressive hunter
O’Shea said scientists at the museum are considering using a giant microwave oven as a possible way to defrost the animal so they can study it.

The mammoth squid could not be left to defrost at room temperature because the process would take days, leaving the outside to rot while the core remained frozen, he said.

At the time it was caught, O’Shea said it would make calamari rings the size of tractor tires if cut up — but they would taste like ammonia.

Colossal squid can descend to 6,500 feet and are known to be extremely active, aggressive hunters.

O’Shea said the squid is priceless to scientists, and would be worth many millions of dollars if insured.

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Video: Giant squid needs defrosting

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