Holyrood Architeuthis (1935)


TONMO Supporter
Nov 19, 2002
Does anyone have any information about this intriguing photograph? All I can say is that was taken at Holyrood which is near St. Johns, Newfoundland. The photo looks turn of the century-ish, maybe a little earlier or later, and the squid appears to be Architeuthis.

[EDIT by tonmo]: We have discovered (via input offered by family members of the gentlemen pictured) that this squid was caught on 11/12/1935. Read thread for details.



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Yow, what a cool photo. You bought it on Ebay, didn't you? Didn't you?

According to the Smithsonian's "Records of Architeuthis Specimens from Published Reports," a 24-foot Architeuthis was caught in a herring net near Logy Bay, 3 miles from St. Johns, on 25 November 1873. Body length was listed (by Verrill) as 8 feet, which looks about right for your photo. The squid was badly mutilated, and had to be pieced together. Significantly, the Smithsonian document states that this squid was photographed at least twice, in a reassembled state and with the head and arms separated from the mantle.

I don't know enough about Newfoundland (or fashion) to judge the photograph's age from that chap's clothing.

Anyhow, great pic. I love a mystery.

good research...will have to check out a few bits here too...any clothing experts at Tonmo???
Thanks Clem,

Maybe you have pinned it down. That photo really could be dated anytime between 1870-1930 and it's hard to be precise. I'm afraid that I couldn't find a reference in the link you supplied above, though I may not have looked far enough.

In Richard Ellis's book "The Search for the Giant Squid" he provides a table of Architeuthis sightings and strandings which I can only assume is taken from the Smithsonian Archives as above. He lists no less than 18 strandings at Newfoundland between 1870-1881 before the sightings mysteriously stopped; the next recorded being in the 1960s. Maybe there was some form of change in ocean currents or ocean temperatures for a decade in the 1870s prompting population displacement (?).

I'll try and list these encounters later but no time right now (work calls). Maybe one of the listed locations is particularly close to St. Johns? I'd say your Logy Bay suggestion is on the money.

An elementray school in Holyrood has the photo up on their home page, with no information attached to it. The school's home page, does, however, state that Holyrood is near the mouth of Conception Bay, Newfoundland. As this stretch of salt has seen several recorded Archie finds, there are at least two other stranding events to consider, and one of them is pretty intriguing.

Before I go any farther, here's the link to the Michael J. Sweeney's "Record of Architeuthis Specimens." It's a PDF file, but at 286 KB it's a pretty fast download, even for slower internet access methods (such as mine, gah). At well over a hundred pages in length, a printout of this essential document will be an imposing presence on your desk, and at parties.

PDF Record of Architeuthis Specimens.

An Architeuthis was recovered in Conception Bay, near Brigus, in October of 1879. Arm length for this specimen is given as 8 feet, perhaps a bit long for the proportions shown in the Holyrood photo, but, who knows, they might have given them a good pull before measuring them. The Smithsonian list does not indicate whether or not the Brigus animal was photographed.

And then, there's this one, November 10, 1881, "near St. John's, Portugal Cove." Location: Canada, Newfoundland, BL [Body Length]=5.5ft; HL [Head Length]=1.25ft; EL [Entire Length]=28ft." (Sweeney) This specimen was apparently photographed by one E. Lyons in St. John's. The squid was then purchased for exhibition in the Worth Museum, an old curiosities exhibit in lower Manhattan. Shipped on ice to New York, the squid was subsequently fixed in preservative.

A mantle and head measurement of almost 7 feet could also work for the Holyrood squid, judging from the photo. (I've just realized that I tend to use subjective scaling when looking at photos of people, thus imagining everyone is 6 feet tall. That Newfie, for example, could have been Napoleon's sparring partner, for all I know :roll:) It's also possible that the Logy Bay squid was the one that appeared in a photo, head and arms only, draped over a an old metal bath, reproduced in Ellis's "Search for the Giant Squid," among others. Don't have that book with me...the rest of you have it, I know.

What tickles me about the St. John's/Portugal Cove squid is the association with the Worth Museum in New York. Was it the squid that was used as a pattern for the line of papier-mache models that were sold to museums? That's somewhere in Ellis's book, I know. Mostly, I wonder if the Worth's exhibited squid was involved in an obscure Harry Houdini performance, too smelly to imagine, whereby the great escape artist freed himself from confinement with a dead giant squid. Taningia Danae metioned this in a post a while ago, but I don't recall ever finding more details online. Did Houdini ever perform at Worth's?

Portugal Cove is a good hour or so drive from Holyrood, I'd say the October 1879 specimen is probably the one in the picture.

I'm from St John's, Newfoundland, but I have limited knowledge concerning clothing, sorry!
Pieces said:
I'm from St John's, Newfoundland, but I have limited knowledge concerning clothing, sorry!
You do wear clothing, though, right?:wink:

Thanks for the post, Pieces. It really helps to hear from someone who's walked that ground, or driven over it. You folks might be seeing some more Archies, soon (if patterns hold). Let us know, please.


Hehe, yes we DO wear clothing :P

Actually, I attend Memorial University as well (1st year), and I was suprised at the amount of material on Architeuthis and 'Sea Serpents' I was able to find in the library. I found Ellis's book to be a very interesting read, although I'm sure the book topic probably wierded out more than a few of my friends (reading it in public sure earns you some strange looks!).

I also looked up Dr. Fredrick Aldrich on the university site (I had heard of him before, but it never really occured to me that the Biology head would have interest in the giant squid), and I was saddened to hear that he passed away more than a decade ago, I really would have been honored to meet one of the world's foremost experts on Architeuthis!

Anyways, theres been 1 in the last few weeks, I'll be sure to post up anything I hear in the news :smile:
Oh, now what?

Went looking on Google for the image Phil initially posted, and found this:

Joe Ezekiel With His Squid

It's the same photo, albeit reversed, and has obviously been scanned (you can see the bit of scanner "drag" on the left edge of the image), contributed to the host site by a Mr. Bill Moore. The caption dates the photo from 1934, taken at Harbour Main. A Harbour Main Architeuthis is on Michael J. Sweeney's Archie list, found dead on the shore of Conception Bay on November 12, 1935. Sweeney cites a total length of 17 feet, 3 inches for this animal.

The Holyrood school homepage that hosted the other version of the photo is nowhere to be found.


chrono_war01 said:
boy, the tentacles sure are long... :wink:
Hello Chrono,

I think the squid was laid out on some long wooden planks, perhaps the ones used to slide the boat up out of the water. At first glance, the planks blend in with the squid's arms and tentacles, making them look unnaturally long. Attached is a detail of the photo, with arrows indicating what might be the ends of the two tentacles, flopped over the edges of the planks.




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holyrood architeuthis 1870

Re: Giant Squid

I have the original picture of giant squid re: Joe Ezekiel.
Also have Reader's Digest write up of same topic.

Will supply info if you are interested.

Marie HJ
Marie HJ;85955 said:
Re: Giant Squid

I have the original picture of giant squid re: Joe Ezekiel.
Also have Reader's Digest write up of same topic.

Will supply info if you are interested.

Marie HJ

:welcome: to TONMO, and I'm sure many of us would love to read & see more!
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