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Gargantuan squid ready for its public debut

Friday 12 Dec 2008 12:00a.m.

Gargantuan squid ready for its public debut

Half a million people around the world watched online as New Zealand's colossal squid was examined last April. Now there is international interest again, as the world's first colossal squid exhibition opens in Wellington, where it was discovered that finding a way to conserve and display the colossal squid was not easy.

"One of the big issues of natural environment specimens and displaying them is that traditionally you would have displayed them in alcohol," Robert Clendon from Te Papa says. "That's a fire risk to a museum."

Instead the squid is suspended in a liquid column of glycol and water in a custom-built tank.

"It's in an experimental fluid which is not toxic at all," explains Te Papa's Carol Diebel. "But nobody's really used it to this extent before."

The squid was landed by a fishing vessel in the Ross Sea last year and has attracted the interest of thousands of people from around the world.

"We're getting a lot of enquiries from the public, but also from overseas institutions about what we've done here, how we've preserved and how we've displayed it," Mr Clendon says.

Te papa will host a series of squid events over the summer, including dissections of smaller squid to introduce visitors to squid anatomy.

The exhibition of the colossal squid opens to the public tomorrow and admission is free.  The squid is expected to remain in its experimental tank for around three years.

3 News

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