Last year a giant squid washed up on La Arena beach, Spain. Such events are rare, but even rarer are good photographs before these behemoths of the deep start to decay. In this case Enrique Talledo, a photographer who usually specializes in underwater work, was nearby and managed to take these remarkable pictures.
Until 2012 fully grown giant squid (Architeuthis dux) had never been recorded alive, and today our knowledge of them remains very limited. More than 700 specimens have been caught by trawlers or washed up on beaches, but most are in poor condition by the time scientists get to study them.
Growing to 13m long and 275kg giant squid were thought to be the largest invertebrate species on Earth until a fully grown specimen of the closely related colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) was found. The unfortunate La Arena individual was a mere 9m long and weighed 180kg, when first found, although the tentacles shrink dramatically after death.
Giant squid mainly inhabit colder environments off continental shelves.
Huge as this squid was, it wasn't big enough for some people who felt the need to exaggerate its size by a factor of five and hoax people with photoshop.