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Giant squid washes ashore on the coast of Japan

A giant squid was found on a beach on the western coast of Japan. File Photo by EPA
A giant squid was found on a beach on the western coast of Japan. File Photo by EPA

Dec. 21 (UPI) -- A rare giant squid measuring 10 feet in length was found washed ashore, largely intact, on the western coast of Japan, according to a local press report.

Kyoto Shimbun reported a married couple in the Iwagahana district of Kyoto Prefecture first found the dead cephalopod -- which can grow as long as 43 feet -- on Thursday.

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The man and the woman were taking a stroll along a beach when they saw the giant squid at about 6 a.m.

The Japanese press report included a photo of the woman sitting next to the sea creature, which measured about 5 feet across.

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The woman told the newspaper it is common to see smaller squids washed ashore.

"I have never seen such a large squid before," she said.

Giant squid are hard to find because they inhabit some of the deepest depths of the ocean, thriving in areas about 2,100 to 2,950 feet below sea level.

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Japanese maritime authorities in Odashukuno, Kyoto Prefecture, said giant squid sightings are rare, with squid appearing in the area only about five or six times in the past 20 years.

Giant squid have inspired myths around the world, and were likely the inspiration for the Kraken sea monster, a northern European legend.

Japanese scientists have been studying the species using new techniques.

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Toshifumi Wada, a marine biologist at the University of Hyogo in Japan, began to collect the environmental DNA, or fragments of genetic material, of the squid by boat in 2018, Canada-based Hakai Magazine reported this month.

Environmental "DNA tracking may increase the opportunity to observe the wild swimming giant squid," said his colleague Hideyuki Doi, who is continuing the research after Wada died in 2018.

Edith Widder, a marine biologist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, told the magazine the Japanese researchers likely discovered evidence of juvenile giant squid, according to Hakai.

A giant 14-foot squid also washed up ashore in South Africa in June 2020. Scientists at the Iziko Museums of South Africa said at the time they plan to preserve the squid with ethanol for research purposes.

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