Historical ceph pic


Colossal Squid
Nov 19, 2002
Dunedin, New Zealand

we were going through some old pics for our lab's centenary and we came across this!

It's from the Galathea Expedition of 1952

The details are "Cirroteuthis 2 specimens taken at station 601, depth 4,400-4,510m, Temp 1C Lat 45 51S 164.32E (W of Milford Sound, SW NZ) Otter trawl on bottom 2 hours"

I don't know what happened to the specimens which is a shame as they look to have been in reasonably good shape.


I am nearly speechless Jean!!! I never knew of these specimens, this photograph ... and I'm supposed to know these things!

Looking at it I don't hesitate to refer to it as a species I described in 1999 - Grimpoteuthis abyssicola. I MUST find out what happened to those specimens ...... AND whether they collected any additional cephalopod material!

You have opened up a can of worms!

This is more than exciting.
A few potential leads for you, but nothing spectacular. This could make a great research project as the pieces of the jigsaw do seem to be out there.

It seems that many of the specimens returned with the Galathea where they are stored at the Zoological Museum at the University of Copenhagen (Ref). Other specimens were despatched to the Smithsonian.

At least two general reports on the specimens collected were published, these were:

Wolff, T. (1975). Scientific results of the Danish Deep-Sea Expedition round the World 1950-52. Galathea Report, Vol. 13. Scandinavian Science Press: Copenhagen, Denmark. 262, 14 plates pp.

Bruun, A.F. et al., eds., THE GALATHEA DEEP SEA EXPEDITION: 1950-1952, NY, 1956

Both of which do not seem to be uncommon with book dealers, as Google searches will testify. I think the main lead to follow would be the career of the NZ scientist Richard Dell who served on the Galathea during the worldwide survey and died in Wellington last year. According to the biography available here he was a pioneer in the research in deep-water NZ malacology. It may be worth attempting to contact some of the museums he worked at such as the Dominion. He did publish a paper for which he was awarded a DSC in 1956 called "The archibenthal Mollusca of New Zealand", published as Dominion Museum Bulletin 18.

It seems to me that there is at least a strong possibility that the specimens he worked on may still be at the Dominion, now called the National Museum of New Zealand, and I would not think it would too hard to check or possibly even arrange a visit. (I'd love to, but it's a little far to come).

And lastly, the good ship Galathea. By the way Steve, wouldn't that be a great name for your boat?
Thanks for that Phil. I know the collections at the National Museum of NZ like the back of my hand ... and those specimens are not there. This has me beat!

They are actually the deepest-known specimens of any octopod from the New Zealand region!!! The Type locality for G. abyssicola is just outside of NZ waters, 35°35.1'S, 160°57.1'E, 3180-3154m; it is (was) known from a single specimen only collected by the New Zealand Oceanographic Institute (NZOI), nowadays called NIWA (shudder), taken on 27/09/1982 (NZOI Stn U200). This was the deepest recognised cephalopod known from/proximal to NZ waters ... until a day-or-so ago.

Perhaps the Smithsonian has them; I'll do some digging. Can't have specimens '2 and 3' just vanish like that! Who knows what other greeblies they have in their collections. My old 1999 memoir is already out of date (a further 3 species have been collected since then, although one of them is 'in press' now).

Hi Steve,

I can try some digging down here. I know Betty Batham was on at least the NZ leg of that expedition (that's one of her photo's). She usually kept copious notes. So I can see what I can find out!!!! I can also check with John Jillet here at PML as he's a postive fount of information!

I've done a little digging and haven't been able to find anything, I've sent some emails to some who may know!!!

But on the website of the Zoological Museum of Copenhagen it says that they hold some specimens from the 1952 Galathea expedition. The curator for molluscs is Dr Ole Tendal (Steve I'll pm his address to you).

On that note while looking for info on the first pic I came across a 1952 newspaper clipping showing R. K. Dell with an Archi

I apologise for the quality of the scan but the clippings are 51 years old!!




Hi Steve,

Had a chat with John Jillett, here and he feels that most of the ceph stuff would have ended up in Copenhagen. BUT there should be a published list of Stations from that exped somewhere. Our library holds the Galathea reports but they're in stack and also a periodical and one would need to know what to ask for. we also hold a couple of books written by members of the expedition here at PML so I'll have a squiz and see what I can find out!


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