AMNH Architeuthis

Feb 24, 2004
In early 1996, Dr. Neil Landman chair of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History, in New York City, decided it would be advantageous to obtain an Architeuthis. This was prompted by the high incidence of capture, a result of the deep trawling for Orange Roughy in and around Australia and New Zealand. Dr. Clyde Roper from the Smithsonian Institutions National Museum of Natural History was invaluable for information regarding all things Architeuthis. Dr. Steve O’Shea was apparently the best person to contact and the game was afoot. There were a number of aspects of the project that needed to be setup well in advance including transportation, preservation and of course obtaining a quality specimen.

On June 9th 1998 this plan was realized when Steve O’Shea escorted the museums newly acquired Architeuthis kirki through US Customs. According to the museum web site, the squid has 15-foot-long tentacles, and a 10-foot-long mantle, and it weighs about 200 pounds. My own data is packed away so I will just say it was the largest Architeuthis I ever examined. Sorry for the poor resolution, I took the attached group of pictures with an Apple Quicktake digital camera (0.8 megapixle). They have never been shown as a group before I am not sure if Steve has viewed them. Aside from Neil Landman, Steve O’Shea and myself Richard Ellis was there as well. As I fondly recall the high level of ammonium was not at all detrimental while handling the squid, it did not smell bad at all but then again I was too excited to notice. I will say that my rubber-soled shoes were ruined, and I could not eat any seafood for a month since the smell had permanently attached itself to my olfactory receptors. The specimen was a mature male in very good condition. Initial impressions and observations, the suckers worked remarkably well all things considered, you could have them adhere to the palm of your hand, there was a very large penis and spermatophore were present, the beak was very strong and sharp as one would expect and the toothed ringed suckers were quite flexible.

There was a smaller specimen as well which was destined for Clyde Roper; you will notice this in the pictures as well.



Now that brings back memories! Thanks Carl (I've not seen those pics).

I must say that the team at AMNH were the nicest lot of people that I have ever dealt with. It was also the first time that I'd ever dispatched a specimen overseas, frozen, so it was a pretty stressful time (especially when the squid got held up in customs, frozen ... defrosting .. for a day or so). How calm Neil was to officials on the phone, trying to expedite its release .... and how 'uncalm' I was with those very same people, using language that couldn't be repeated online.

The days of me sending squid overseas are now well and truly over; the days of me receiving them from the fishing industry are well and truly over. I'll just have to grow them myself I suppose.

I do recall (bits of) a rather interesting evening, after we'd finished fixing the brute down, going downtown somewhere, smelling of squid, to some bar/restaurant somewhere. I had to eat a plate of some bad-tasting mud-dwelling crayfish-like bug. Nothing short of disgusting! We were having a rather entertaining eve when the waitress came over with some huge fish-bowl-sized alcoholic concoction, free, a dozen-or-so straws, I couldn't believe it, ..... . That's pretty much the last thing I remember about that eve (I think I lost a few brain cells that day).

I don't think the squid is on display anymore, is it Carl? A pity.
Now THAT's a Doctor we can believe in!!!! :lol:
Cool info...bummer that logistics and semantics keep us all from learning more due to border disputes... :frown:
Great Pics Carl!

BTW Steve, We're still trying to figure out ways to display one down here! So if you still have any needing a home keep us in mind (Sally our director got all enthusiastic when she saw the one in the Picton aquarium!)


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