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Countdown To Colossal Squid Display At Te Papa

Countdown To Colossal Squid Display At Te Papa

The only colossal squid exhibit in the world ( will open to the public on Saturday 13 December, proudly supported by the New Zealand Seafood Industry and telecommunications solutions provider, Alcatel Lucent. The 495 kilogramme, 4.2 metre female colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni), the most massive invertebrate ever examined, will be on display at Te Papa for three years. Admission to the exhibit is free.

The exhibit will include the colossal squid, dramatically lit in its custom-built tank, displays of various body parts including the orange-sized lens of the eye, models of its beak and tentacle swivel hooks that can be touched and rotated, as well as a thrilling theatre featurette immersing visitors in the world of the colossal squid in stereoscopic 3D animation!

‘This exceptional specimen and interactive display contributes to our understanding and appreciation of our oceans depths and the amazing creatures that inhabit it,’ says Dr Seddon Bennington, Te Papa’s Chief Executive. ‘Coupled with a comprehensive online exhibit, the entire experience from capture to defrosting to display, the research of the colossal squid is able to be shared worldwide, and has already captured the interest of thousands of people worldwide.’

Preparations for the colossal squid exhibit have begun with a section of the popular Level 2 exhibition, Mountains to Sea, now closed to the public. The tank with the specimen inside weighs a staggering 3 tonnes and will be transported from its current location in Te Papa’s Tory St research facility to the museum on Monday 1 December.

The exhibit will use interactive technology to tell the story of the squid, allowing museum and online visitors to learn about the colossal squid’s anatomy; its deep sea habitat; the mysterious creatures that live in Antarctic oceans and to discover the stories of the commercial fishermen and independent observers in the Ross Sea.

’The New Zealand Seafood Industry is thrilled to be part of exhibiting the colossal squid which was captured by a New Zealand fishing vessel San Aspiring in 2007, says New Zealand Seafood Industry Council chief executive Owen Symmans.

‘Our fishermen travel to amazing places and often return with interesting and unusual specimens, although seldom ones of the size or significance as the squid. Most people will never have the chance to go where these creatures dwell. It’s very appropriate for our industry to partner with Te Papa in bringing this rare opportunity to others.’

There will be a series of squid events over summer starting during the opening weekend with lectures by squid scientists, kids’ workshops and storytelling and even a squid dissection in the NatureSpace Discovery Centre to introduce visitors to squid anatomy.

‘The colossal squid at Te Papa has captured the imagination of people around the globe,’ says Steve Lowe, CEO, Alcatel-Lucent New Zealand.

‘Alcatel-Lucent is an avid supporter of science, technology and innovation and is pleased to partner with the Museum to create a platform for global discovery and a window for our future scientists and technologists to explore the world of science.’

The 2007 female colossal squid is the most massive invertebrate ever discovered, weighing in at 495kg. It is 4.2 metres long and holds the record for the world’s largest eye measuring 27cm in diameter. The colossal squid was landed by the New Zealand fishing vessel, the San Aspiring, in the Ross Sea in 2007 and gifted to Te Papa by the Ministry of Fisheries. Stored for a year in a freezer in Te Papa’s Tory St facility, it was defrosted in April 2008 and examined by a team of international scientists. The webcast of the examination (and the dissection of two giant squid and a smaller damaged colossal squid) was the first of its kind in the world and attracted up to 2400 simultaneous viewers each day and 450,000 visits to Te Papa’s website.

Discovery Channel US filmed the defrosting and examination of the colossal squid for an indepth documentary programme that was released in the North America earlier this year and Te Papa acknowledges their support with the colossal squid preservation programme.


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