What To Do When Someone Gives You A Giant Squid

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In March 2004, Jon Ablett got a call asking him if he wanted a giant squid.

The call came from the fisheries department in the Falkland Islands. Some local fishermen had accidentally trapped a massive, bright magenta squid in their nets 2km off the coast, dragged it on to their boat, and now didn't know what to do with it. They wanted to know if the Natural History Museum would take it off their hands, because what the hell else are you supposed to do when there's a giant squid on your boat instead of in the sea.

Ablett is curator of molluscs at the Natural History Museum, so he gets calls about caught specimens pretty frequently – the NHM has a constantly growing research collection kept out the back in the Darwin Centre, away from the main hall – but never about a giant squid. The closest you're likely to come to a giant squid in a museum would be the undigested bits of it that scientists have picked out of the bellies of sperm whales on whaling ships, or leftover pieces that have washed ashore. Fundamentally, you just don't get calls about a giant squid that was very recently alive, in one piece, on a boat somewhere off the Falklands.

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