Rare sightings of giant squid turning heads around Munster

It was a lucky week for fishermen as rare creatures of the deep were caught off the Kerry and Clare coast.

Biologist Kevin Flannery, Louise Overy, and Amanda Watters, Dingle, with the squid at work in Dingle Oceanworld. Picture: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus LTD

A giant squid caught off the southwest coast is only the sixth documented Irish sighting of the elusive marine creature on record.

The squid, measuring 15.8m, was the first one seen in Irish waters in 22 years.

The first known recording of a giant squid was in 1673 near the Aran Islands.

The latest find was caught in a trawling net by fisherman Pete Flannery, skipper of the Cú na Mara, near the Porcupine Basin, 190km off the Kerry coast.

Mr Flannery’s father, Michael, was the fisherman who caught two giant squids off the Kerry coast in 1995, the last time one was caught in Irish waters.

The squid was brought to Dingle’s Oceanworld Aquarium and from there will be sent to the Natural History Museum.

Aquarium director Kevin Flannery says there were three giant squids caught by trawlers in 1995 but the one that turned up off the Kerry coast on Monday was the first since then.

Rare blue lobster found off the Clare coast last Wednesday.

“Records show the first sighting of a giant squid was on October 3, 1673. The next wasn’t until 1875 in Inisbofin and then there were three in 1995,” Mr Flannery said.

The latest finding on May 15 will now be included in the records.

“The giant squid is the one the sperm whales have to dive deep down for, they go extremely deep, down 40 or 50 feet,” Mr Flannery added. 

Also known as a Kraken, the giant squid was feared by fishermen and sailors in the past.

“They’re so elusive, hardly anyone has ever seen one. National Geographic has only filmed them recently for the first time ever off the coast of New Zealand.”

Giant squid dwarfs the common type of squid only grows to about 20cm.

“Obviously, this one, which is male, came up to feed and was chasing fish when it got caught in the net,” Mr Flannery said.

Meanwhile, in Clare fishermen made a one-in-2m catch of a blue lobster on two separate occasions.

The extremely rare blue lobster was landed off the Quilty coast in west Clare last Wednesday — but had to be released as it was below the required legal size.

The fishermen, who have asked not to be identified, caught the same blue lobster again last Friday and again released it.

The fishermen have taken a shine to their rare find, naming it Blue Velvet, and they now hope to catch it again when it has reached adulthood and keep it as a pet.

“It has white on its claws and they used herring as the bait to catch her. We’ve never had one caught in this area before,” a spokesperson for the fishermen said.

“Once they caught a dark, navy blue one, many, many years ago, but never anything like this. There could be a small blue family of lobsters out there somewhere. He’ll keep her close, so when the gauge is tipped, in she will come.”



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