Rare giant squid specimen becomes latest addition to Iziko’s marine invertebrate collection

Iziko Museums of South Africa

Media images and interview requests, please contact:
Zikhona Jafta on 021 481 3838 or at zjafta@iziko.org.za

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Rare giant squid specimen is washed up on Golden Mile Beach in Brittania Bay on
Sunday, 7 June 2020. Photograph: Adéle Grosse © Iziko Museums of South Africa.


The latest addition to Iziko Museums of South Africa’s marine invertebrate collection is a very rare giant squid specimen, which washed up on Golden Mile Beach in Brittania Bay – some 150km north-west of Cape Town – on Sunday, 7 June 2020.

Thanks to the swift action of officials from the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) and the public, Iziko’s Marine Biology Unit – through their affiliation with the South African National Stranding Network – was alerted of the stranding.

Iziko staff, Dr Wayne Florence, Curator: Marine Invertebrates; Albe Bosman, Collections Manager: Fishes; and Dr Toufiek Samaai, Specialist Scientist for Marine Biodiversity at DEFF and Iziko Honorary Associate, collected the specimen from a holding facility in Saldanha Bay and transported it back to Cape Town where it was measured and subsampled for DNA analyses.

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Albe Bosman, Iziko Collections Manager: Fishes (left) and Dr Toufiek Samaai, Specialist Scientist for
Marine Biodiversity at DEFF and Iziko Honorary Associate (right) prepare the giant squid for freezing.
Photograph: Dr Wayne Florence © Iziko Museums of South Africa.


The Giant Squid is temporarily being stored in Iziko’s new –300C walk-in freezer facility. Once the COVID19 lockdown level is lowered sufficiently, the specimen will be documented and preserved for long term storage in the wet collection of the Iziko South African Museum. 

Giant squid were historically thought to be comprised of several species, but based on DNA analysis of preserved museum specimens it is widely accepted that they are all attributable to a single species named Architeuthis dux. Newly acquired specimens for foundational taxonomic research have the potential for discovery of new species, underscoring the need for active museum collections.
 

Iziko has at least nineteen other Architeuthis specimens, making it the largest repository for giant squids on the continent, and comparable with other collections globally. While the new specimen is just over four metres long, Iziko’s largest giant squid specimen is around nine-point-three metres in length. This specific giant squid was a stranding from Soetwater in Cape Town, and is the focus of a recreation which is on display in World of Water on exhibition at the Iziko South African Museum.

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Dr Toufiek Samaai, Specialist Scientist for Marine Biodiversity at DEFF and Iziko Honorary Associate
holds up the beak of the giant squid. Photograph: Dr Wayne Florence © Iziko Museums of South Africa. 

 

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Dr Wayne Florence, Curator: Marine Invertebrates (right) and Albe Bosman, Iziko Collections Manager:
Fishes (left) prepare the giant squid. Photograph: Dr Toufiek Samaai © Iziko Museums of South Africa.

 

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Dr Toufiek Samaai, Specialist Scientist for Marine Biodiversity at DEFF and Iziko Honorary Associate
​​​​​​holds up the beak of the giant squid. Photograph: Dr Wayne Florence © Iziko Museums of South Africa.

ENDS
 

Issued by: Ellen Agnew
Communications Coordinator: Iziko Museums of South Africa
Telephone: 021 481 3830 Email: eagnew@iziko.org.za
Website: www.iziko.org.za
Issued on behalf of the Office of the CEO, Iziko Museums of South Africa

 

About Iziko Museums of South Africa (Iziko)

Iziko operates 11 national museums, the Planetarium and Digital Dome, the Social History Centre and three collection‑specific libraries in Cape Town.  The museums that make up Iziko have their own history and character, presenting extensive art, social and natural history collections that reflect our diverse African heritage.  Iziko is a public entity and public benefit organisation that brings together these museums under a single governance and leadership structure.  The organisation allows *free access to all individuals on commemorative days, (*excluding the Castle of Good Hope, Groot Constantia and Planetarium and Digital Dome). Visit our webpage at www.iziko.org.za, join our online community on Facebook (www.facebook.com/IzikoMuseums), Instagram (@izikomuseumssa) or follow us on Twitter (@Iziko_Museums) for regular updates on events, news and new exhibitions.