(FOX) — A fully intact giant squid washed up on a beach in South Africa earlier this month – a rare sighting for an animal that was only first captured on video in its natural habitat seven years ago.
“Seeing it at first really took my breath away,” Adéle Grosse, who spotted the dead animal while on a walk with her husband in Brittania Bay, told Live Science. “Honestly, it looked like a majestic prehistoric animal.”
Giants squids, who usually live between 2,000 and 3,200 feet below the surface, are only seen once every few years and washed up carcasses are rarely intact, Michael Vecchione, an invertebrate zoologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, told the publication. A live giant squid has never been caught.
Grosse estimated the squid was about 13 feet long and weighed about 660 pounds, which is actually on the smaller side. Female giant squids can measure 60 feet across, according to Live Science.
The carnivorous creatures have eight arms and two longer tentacles all with powerful suction that help them capture prey, according to Vecchione.
Giant squids can feast upon fish, squids, octopuses, nautiluses, cuttlefish and even other giant squids.
Vecchione said giant squids bite off little pieces of their prey with their beak.
The squid’s “esophagus goes through the middle of the brain, so it has to bite pieces of food so that they’ll be small enough to squeeze through the brain,” he told Live Science.
Even the squid’s eyes are giant: at one-foot long they are the largest of any animal, according to Vecchione.
Grosse told the publication they weren’t sure how the squid died.
“We had big swells the night before, and it was my understanding that the swell washed up this beautiful squid onto the beach in the early hours of the morning,” she said. “We looked for bite marks or injuries and could not really find anything.”
After Grosse uploaded photos of the giant squid on social media, she connected with the curator of marine invertebrates at Iziko Museums of South Africa, Wayne Florence, who plans to study its DNA.
The Iziko Museums of South Africa has the largest collection of giant squids specimens on the continent.