'Rare' 9-Foot Squid Washes Up on Japanese Shore in 'Unusual' Scene

Countless biologists are reaching out to one Japanese aquarium after a live mammoth squid was discovered to have washed ashore on a national beach.

The approximate 9-foot, 8-inch squid was discovered at about 10 a.m. Wednesday at Ugu beach in Obama of Fukui Prefecture. Photos and videos of the squid were taken as researchers appeared on the scene to measure the large sea creature.

The Japanese publication Mainichi reported that local authorities called the cephalopod's appearance "a rare occurrence."

"It is unusual for a giant squid to be washed ashore alive," officials from the Obama Municipal Government told the publication.

The squid was later transported to Echizen Matsushima Aquarium in the city of Sakai for further research and preservation.

Britannica says that despite reports of giant squids exceeding 59 feet in total length, the maximum total length of examined specimens is approximately 43 feet. That mantle length, or length of the mantle and head only, is typically more than 7 feet, 4 inches.

Squid
A giant squid was recently discovered on the shore of a Japanese beach, exciting researchers due to the rarity of the scene. Local authorities called the creature's appearance "a rare occurrence." iStock/Getty Images

According to Mainichi, one of those researchers included Noritaka Hirohashi, a professor of bioresource sciences—or more specifically breeding biology—at Shimane University. He visited the aquarium for purposes of preservation, or more specifically to inspect the squid's genitalia.

The professor reportedly watched a video online the day the giant squid was found on shore, later requesting the aquarium currently inhabiting the squid to preserve its male reproductive organs. The aquarium obliged, which was a cause of excitement for Hirohashi.

"We didn't even know that the reproductive organs behaved that way," he told Mainichi. "The video with high academic value confirmed the hypothesis of the reproductive method that I had in mind."

Since the giant squid simultaneously moves swiftly while possessing a limited population due to its home in deep waters, Hirohashi added, it was described as a near-impossible feat to be able to observe one of the species' reproductive methods.

Examining cells in the collected reproductive organs, he hypothesized that giant squids such as these have male genital organs that are inserted into female squids and unleash sperm. He said that if cells of the same species are found in the female body, it alludes to "strong evidence" in support of his hypothesis.

"It is a very valuable material," he said. "Maybe clarified for the first time in the world. "

Seiji Sasai, chief of the exhibition section of the aquarium, told Mainichi that "inquiries have been received from several biology researchers" in the wake of the squid's discovery.

"I would be happy as an aquarium if it could be used effectively, not only for the public but also for research and for the development of science," Sasai said.

Squids of this size and caliber, and even bigger in some instances, are not completely uncommon.

The Smithsonian said that a giant female squid measuring 24 feet attacked bait beneath a Japanese research vessel off the coast of Japan's Ogasawara Islands. It was reportedly the first time a giant squid had ever been filmed while alive.

More recently, a fully intact giant squid washed up on a beach in South Africa in 2020, according to Live Science.