Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni from 1981


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Site Owner
May 30, 2000
Alexander Remeslo is the copyright owner of this famous photo of Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni (Colossal Squid). We've been exchanging emails and he gave me permission to share this photo and also his story - (I've only edited it for grammar per his request; he is from Russia).

Click to enlarge:


Colossal Squid caught by Soviet trawler in 1981. This specimen, an immature female, was caught at 760 m (2500 feet) in the Antarctic off Dronning Maud Land by the Soviet trawler Evrica in 1981. Photo by Alexander Remeslo (Russia) copyright, all rights reserved.

His story below:

It was early morning the 3rd of February, 1981, when I was working in Lazarev Sea near Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, on board the Soviet fisheries research vessel 'Evrika'. A fellow scientist rushed into my cabin and pushed me in the ribs, shouting: "Wake up, we caught a giant squid!" With my cameras slung around my neck I ran on deck. There lay a huge reddish brown squid. None of the crew members, several of them sea dogs who had been wandering all over the seven seas, had previously seen something like this.

Fine wet snow fell, the sky and the sea were grey and dreary. Taking photos was difficult because the dull light was not sufficient for the poor-quality film material available in those days, and also I didn't have a tripod. Instead I had to make do with an empty drum of lubricants. In those years, unfortunately, I also had only a little experience as a photographer. To make matters worse, burning with impatience to see the results of my photography, I decided to develop the films immediately on board of the vessel, rather than keeping them for developing in a professional laboratory at home. Therefore the quality of the photos taken that day leaves much to be desired. But the most important thing has been done anyway – to document what was most probably the world's first big specimen of the Colossal Squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni), which was raised from the depths onto the deck of a vessel and not removed from a sperm whale's stomach! Its total length was 5.10 metres, the mantle alone measured 2.42 metres.

The squid was completely intact. Only the leathery maroon skin of the mantle was torn a little in some parts due to the friction of the trawl. Except for a few stones, which confirmed the capture of squid at the very bottom of the ocean, there was nothing else in the trawl. When the squid was caught we were carrying out deep water hydrological readings. These data gave an indication of the squid's habitat. In the bottom layer of the water the temperature was + 0.6° C (salinity 34.75 ‰), whereas on the surface it was only -0.65º C.

After this for 22 years no other huge Mesonychoteuthis was caught. As you know only in spring 2003 the world-wide news wires started buzzing with sensational news: in the Ross Sea, near the coast of Antarctica, again a squid of colossal dimensions had been caught. Its total length was 4.88 m (16 feet), the length of the mantle alone 2.5 m, weight approx. 300 kgs.
Anyone, indeed... :oshea:

Some folks on FB seemed a bit upset about the photo and the associated story (link to FB post here), which is understandable, but in the end I'm all for learning from what has already happened. Of course, bottom trawling sucks. But I appreciate Dr. Remeslo sharing his photos and stories from events that happened over 30 years ago.

Here is another photo he shared, which is also copyrighted by him. The Messie beak!

Photo of Alexander Remeslo (Russia) copyright, all rights reserved.


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Sincerely curious re the eyes on the trawl caught specimen. Even having seen them in real life, pictures would intrigue me, as I was never able to fully understand the above photograph. Historic debt, Clem "knows"...
Got a lot of good stuff sent from Alex... just exchanging emails with him, want to line up permissions before sharing. Stand by and sorry for delay!
OB;198650 said:
Sincerely curious re the eyes on the trawl caught specimen. Even having seen them in real life, pictures would intrigue me, as I was never able to fully understand the above photograph. Historic debt, Clem "knows"...

Yeah, it still looks to me like there was some sort of lid structure covering the sclera (white of the eye), with the lens bulging through the aperture. I know such a structure wasn't documented in Te Papa's monster. Maybe someone ate it, nudge nudge wink wink.

Dang! You got me! In all honesty, the eyes had retracted somewhat in the thawed te papa specimen, likely due to the fact that they are basically open to the surrounding sea water, I would guess, extrapolating from related cranchiids. We did establish the opening of the eye to be of similar size to the spherical lense and basically round, rather than (more or less) teardrop shaped, as is the case in Architeuthis. I still, therefore, underwrite your position. (Is that English?)
By the English definition, underwriters are in the corporate insurance business. If you'd like to insure my interpretation, by all means do.:wink2:

...tomorrow! - I got everything I needed throughout this week (right up to yesterday morning) in terms of permissions, accompanying stories, clarifications, etc. Just need to organize and share. Watch this space!
Clem you are going to be somewhat annoyed with me. I forgot that Dr. Remselo kindly asked me to review the content before posting it. I need to do some more work and have sent him a follow-up for some additional information as well. However I can leave you with this:

1) He sent me photos and details about Antarctic toothfish that were clearly damaged by M. hamiltoni. I've asked for some further detail from the studies he conducted to learn more about facts surrounding the toothfish (their depth, size, etc.)

2) He sent me some impressive photos of colossal squid tentacles replete with its eviscerating swivel hooks

3) Photo of said tentacles found in stomach of toothfish

4) Photo of sucker rings

5) one or two additional photos of the colossal squid itself

To whet your appetite attached is a photo of "Marat Yukuchev with tentacles" - copyright Alexander Remselo. This photo was taken 2011-2012 during the voyage around Antarctic on board the S. Korean longliner Hong Jin #701.


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