Saturday 22 July 2017

Bolt from the blue: fishermen haul in a rare lobster and giant squid from the deep

This rare blue lobster was landed off the Quilty coast in west Clare
This rare blue lobster was landed off the Quilty coast in west Clare
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

A giant squid, or "kraken", and a rare blue lobster have been hauled from the deep.

The squid, caught off the south-west coast on Monday, is only the sixth documented Irish sighting of the elusive marine creature on record.

The 5.8m giant squid is the first one seen in Irish waters in 22 years.

The latest find was caught in a trawling net by fisherman Pete Flannery, skipper of the Cú na Mara, near the Porcupine Basin, 195km off the Kerry coast.

This rare blue lobster was landed off the Quilty coast in west Clare
This rare blue lobster was landed off the Quilty coast in west Clare

Mr Flannery's father Michael was the fisherman who caught two giant squid 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 said: "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."

Also known as a "kraken", the giant squid was feared by fishermen and sailors. "They were known to grab sailors and spread their tentacles around them. They will cut and they'll bore into you, once they grab you," said Mr Flannery.

Biologist Kevin Flannery and Louise Overy and Amanda Watters with the giant squid in Dingle’s Oceanworld Aquarium. Photo: Domnick Walsh
Biologist Kevin Flannery and Louise Overy and Amanda Watters with the giant squid in Dingle’s Oceanworld Aquarium. Photo: Domnick Walsh

"Obviously, this one, which is male, came up to feed and was chasing fish when it got caught in the net."

Meanwhile, fishermen made a catch of a blue lobster on two separate occasions.

The extremely rare blue lobster catch 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 caught the same blue lobster again last Friday, but again had to release it.

Lions mane jellyfish. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Lions mane jellyfish. Photo: Fergal Phillips

The blue lobsters have a genetic abnormality that causes them to produce more of a certain protein.

Weird, wonderful life found in our waters

Many unusual creatures have been found in Irish waters and on beaches around the coast over the years, including:

In March 2011, Co Louth fisherman Seamus Kirk caught a red lobster off Clogherhead in Co Louth.

The rare lobster is thought to have ended up the unusual colour - usually associated with cooked lobster - due to a colour morph that can occur naturally in crustaceans.

A Kemp's ridley turtle - the world's smallest and most endangered sea turtle - was washed up on a Donegal beach on Christmas Day 2014. Aoife Flynn, a volunteer with Coastguard Ireland, made the discovery on the rocks at Rossnowlagh.

Last summer there were sightings of the world's biggest jellyfish, the lion's mane jellyfish, off the coasts of Dublin, Cork and Galway.

The species, which can be deadly, is usually found in the colder waters of the Arctic.

In June 2012, a giant box crab was discovered by Inisturk fisherman Michael O'Toole near Inisbofin in around 70m of water. Usually found at around 3,000m beneath the surface, its journey proved too much for the crab which died at the National Aquarium in Salthill, Galway.

Irish Independent

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