Everyone asks how big Architeuthis dux gets. It's (probably) not the most massive squid in the sea: the colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, Latin for "What the hell is that?"), with its heavier build, takes that crown. Architeuthis is the longest squid but not the longest marine invertebrate, since we know of a sea worm - the bootlace worm, Lineus longissimus - of 55 meters. The lion's mane jelly can have tentacles trailing for 36 m, an a siphonophore drifting in a giant spiral through the ocean 600m down, spotted earlier this year off Australia, was guessed to be about 45 m.
A paper by Igner Winklemann et. al., published by the Royal Society, offers these estimates for the giant squid: "while claims have been made of individuals measuring up to 50 m in total length, a more realistic estimate is a maximum total length of 18 m for females, with males reaching slightly smaller sizes."
The 50 claim is sourced to Richard Ellis' book on the animal, which does not claim they get that big, only that it's been reported. (
And that is where we leave our enigmatic friend for today.
Below: Squid Sculpture in Newfoundland (Pixabay, labeled as free for use, photographer unknown).
Newfoundland was the site of several famous squid strandings and encounters. in the late 19th century,
Below: the ultimate squid, the legendary kraken. (Pixabay, labeled as free for use, artist unknown)
Oh, and because it's mandated by law that all squid article must include this, here's Tennyson's take on the kraken. He manages to imbue it with even more dramatic imagery than the old Scandinavian sailors who clamed it could be mistaken for an island.
Below the thunders of the upper deep ;
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth : faintest sunlights fleeAbout his shadowy sides : above him swellHuge sponges of millennial growth and height;And far away into the sickly light,From many a wondrous grot and secret cellUnnumber’d and enormous polypiWinnow with giant arms the slumbering green.There hath he lain for ages and will lieBattening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,Until the latter fire shall heat the deep ;Then once by man and angels to be seen,In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.