A rarely seen species of squid, 8 feet in length, was found floating dead in Cayman’s territorial waters by a fisherman on Friday.
A pod of killer-whales, an uncommon sight off Cayman’s shores, was also spotted by the same angler, Captain Jonathan Arch, on an unusual day of wildlife sightings on the ocean.
Researchers believe the squid is a deep-water species known as Megalocranchia. They are now conducting DNA tests to confirm their initial analysis. It is believed that it may have been dragged from the deep by sperm whales or beaked whales, which forage at extreme depths, bringing prey up to the surface to feed their young.
The Department of Environment says it is rare to find a squid of this size intact anywhere in the world. It is likely that it will be sent to the US for researchers to examine in detail.
Janice Blumenthal, a research officer with the DoE, said: “It is a very large squid. It is unusual to find them anywhere, particularly at the surface. This is a deep water species.
“We have contacted international experts on deep sea squid and they have confirmed that this is an extremely important specimen. They asked us to pass on their thanks to Mr. Arch for recognising its importance and recovering it.”
Mr. Arch, who runs Slackem Charters, said he was fishing about three miles north of the north coast of West Bay when he spotted something floating in the water. “We pulled it in with a gaffe and saw it was a giant squid. This is about as big as they get, I’d never seen anything like it before.
“As far as I know it is one of the least known species in the world. They know more about the Tasmanian devil,” he said.
It was on a second trip later the same day that Mr. Arch and his crew spotted a pod of orcas, the large distinctively patterned black and white dolphins sometimes known as killer whales.
“They were breaching and riding in the slipstream of the boat,” Mr. Arch said. “At one point, they came right under the boat, so close you could see their eyes. That was the first time I have ever seen orcas in Cayman’s waters.
“We’ve had some pretty interesting days on the water, but Friday was right up there.”