The giant squid really exists and is scientifically known as Architeuthis. It is the largest invertebrate in the world. According to studies, it can weigh up to 1.000 kilos and measure up to 20 meters. are all a zoological oddity which has three hearts, a developed brain and the largest eyes in the animal kingdom, with up to 25 cm in diameter, adapted to the bioluminescent life of the abyssal trenches. Their muscles contain high concentrations of ammonia that make them inedible and allow them to float without expending much energy. They expel luminous ink, have eight arms and two tentacles around their "parrot beak" mouth, two strong beak-shaped jaws, a marvel of biological engineering with which they kill and dismember their prey.
With the increase in research, it has been confirmed that it is not a rare or scarce animal, but finding it is still extremely difficult. They have been found in the stomachs of their natural predators, sperm whales. Some are also stranded and lifeless, after being swept away by the currents, on the beaches of half the world. Nevertheless, in Asturias they appear with a much higher frequency than in the rest of the planet.
An Asturian organism, the CEPESMA (Coordinator for the Study and Protection of Marine Species), founded in 1996 in Luarca, has been concerned in recent decades to safely safeguard several of the rescued bodies of these large cephalopods.
Giant squids in Asturias
Experts believe that the Principality's coastline has ideal characteristics that favor the reproduction of this species. Like the submarine canyons that cross the continental shelf and can go as far as 30 miles into the Bay of Biscay. Aviles Canyon, specifically, it is an abyssal chasm located just 7 miles from the Asturian coast that reaches almost 5.000 meters deep and contains one of the largest white coral reefs in all of Europe, as scientists from the Spanish Institute have discovered. of Oceanography. This canyon is a basic ecosystem for the «furry» -as Asturian sailors call the kraken. In this canyon is inscribed the fishing ground of Carrandi, off the coast of Colunga, the area with the most records of this species, along with Kaicoura, in southern New Zealand. It is also close the cachucho (36 kilometers from the coast of Ribadesella) another large marine chasm like Carrandi, very rich in marine flora and fauna. It is in this entire coastal strip where the largest food resource for the giant squid abounds: the banks of lilies or blue whiting (As has been verified by the contents found in their stomachs).
When the huge cephalopods venture to the surface in search of their favorite prey, they expose themselves to trawlers and currents that carry them away from home. In Asturian waters have already been recorded more than 50 strandings since the mid-XNUMXth century. Some of these specimens have been requested by European and North American centers. Like in 2008, when two giant squids were flown on a military plane to Washington to be exhibited at the National History Museum in the American capital. Both traveled in an urn specially designed by CEPESMA, completely sealed and with a depressurization system of 2.250 liters of water and formaldehyde.
The Giant Squid Museum
In 1997 The first specimen of giant squid that astonished its inhabitants arrived in Luarca. The sailors baptized it as "peludín" due to the unique epidermis of this species. The first Giant Squid Interpretation Center was then installed in the New Dock of this fishing village. It was in the years 2010 and served a good number of scientific studies and purposes. In the exhibition section of him he added several krakens that delighted the public. Finding an animal with these characteristics, whole and in perfect condition, was something very unusual.
However, on February 2, 2014, an unprecedented storm botched this facility. The high tide at six in the morning caused the greatest intensity of the waves that flooded and destroyed its first two floors. After eight years closed, the center recently reopened in a new location. In the new museum you can now see ssix giant squids, in addition to 12 species of depth, 35 specimens of other large cephalopods and six bones of some of these marine animals: two vertebrae, a mandible and part of the skulls of the species «Globicephala melas» «Balaneoptera physalus» and «Physeter macrocephalus» .
The museographic project also aims to bring the overwhelming Avilés Canyon closer to the public. To simulate the lack of light from this abyssal chasm, only the most essential lighting is used. Also, ambient sound immerses us in a new sensory experience that recalls the fluids of water and the movements of giant squids. Scenery and interactive resources are added to facilitate learning and participation.
The exhibition room is completed with a model of a giant squid, as well as a laboratory on its anatomy, with detailed information on its feeding and growth. In addition, it plays continuously the documentary Project Kraken: in search of the giant squid, recorded in the Carrandi pit in 2003.
Part of the images from this documentary were used in a later audiovisual, from 2013, in which the Japanese chain NHK and the American Discovery Channel managed to record the giant squid for the first time in its habitat, about 15 kilometers east of the island. Chichijima Japanese, and 630 meters deep.
Hours of the Giant Squid Museum
Location: Calle Nicanor del Campo 35, Luarca
Phone: 985 64 00 83
Open from Wednesday to Sunday: 10:30 a.m. – 13:30 p.m.
Closed Monday and Tuesday.
October 30, 31 and November 1: 10:30 a.m. – 13:30 p.m. / 16:00 p.m. – 19:00 p.m.
From December 3 to 23: 10:30 a.m. – 13:30 p.m. / 16:00 p.m. – 19:00 p.m.
From December 24 to 27: CLOSED.
From December 28 to 30: 10:30 a.m. – 13:30 p.m. / 16:00 p.m. – 19:00 p.m.
December 31 and January 1: CLOSED.
General: €3,00 / pax
13 under, free.
Duration of the visit: 45 – 60 minutes approx.
dog-friendly space (pets must remain on a leash at all times).
Timetables/prices source: Giant Squid Museum.
Text: © Ramón Molleda for asturias.com