New Zealand scientists on Monday began the tricky job of defrosting a rare colossal squid that has been in a deep freeze since it was caught in Antarctic waters in February last year, the dpa reported.
The 10-metre long creature, weighing about 495 kilograms, is only the second intact specimen of its size ever captured, and marine scientists around the world were following its planned examination and dissection at New Zealand's national museum Te Papa on a webcam.
Because of its rarity, the Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni squid, one of the biggest creatures in the sea, was frozen soon after it was landed until New Zealand experts had drawn up a detailed plan for its comprehensive examination.
Their first task was to defrost the giant creature without damaging it. "It's mostly guesswork - we want it neither cooked nor rotted," New Zealand's leading squid expert Steve O'Shea said.
They hit a snag immediately after they removed the squid Sunday from the freezer at the Wellington museum and took it out of its plastic bin.
The scientists discovered that there was little ice around it, and the creature, which is still wrapped in the fishing net that hauled it from the depths, filled the entire bin. This meant it would thaw and start deteriorating well before Wednesday when the scientific community was scheduled to gather for the initial study and dissection, so they put it back in the freezer for another day.
The squid was removed from the freezer again on Monday afternoon and put in a thawing tank where it is to remain until Wednesday.
Very little is known about how and where colossal squids live, but they are monsters of the deep with huge beaks and unique swivelling hooks, which can rip prey apart, on the ends of their tentacles.
The live webcast of the squid's unveiling has attracted attention around the world.
A viewer called Moira responded to a Te Papa blog, saying, "As a soon-to-be qualified marine biologist, I'm extremely excited about this, and due to the time difference, I have to be up at 3 am to watch the action, but I'll be there. I'm just going to host a squid party. We can all stay up late and enjoy the show."
The entire thaw and examination was being filmed by Natural History New Zealand for a Discovery Channel documentary to be released worldwide later this year.