A New Zealand fishing crew has caught an adult colossal squid, a sea creature with eyes as big as dinner plates and razor-sharp hooks on its tentacles, an official said on Thursday.
New Zealand Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said the squid, weighing an estimated 450 kilograms (990 pounds), took two hours to land in Antarctic waters.
The fishermen were catching Patagonian toothfish south of New Zealand and the squid was feeding on one when they caught it.
Colossal squid, known by the scientific name Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, are estimated to grow up to 14 metres (46 feet) long and have long been one of the most mysterious creatures of the deep ocean.
Experts have not yet examined the squid, but if original estimates are correct it is about 150 kilograms (330 pounds) heavier than the next biggest specimen ever found.
If calamari rings were made from this squid they would be the size of tractor tires, said a squid expert at the Auckland University of Technology.
The first specimen of a colossal squid, a 150-kilogram (330-pound) immature female, was caught on the surface in the Ross Sea near the Antarctic coast in April 2004.
The animal can move through the water to a depth of 2,000 metres (6,500 feet) and is extremely active and an aggressive killer, he said.
The frozen squid is to be transported to New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa, in the capital Wellington, to be preserved for scientific study.
Anderton said the find would be of immense interest to scientists and contribute to their understanding of marine life.
Colossal squid are found in Antarctic waters and are not related to giant squid (Architeuthis species) found around the coast of New Zealand.
Giant squid grow up to 12 metres (39 feet), but are not as heavy.