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Colossal Squid Caught in Antarctic



Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
--Life Sciences
Social Studies
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Grades 2-up

News Content

A colossal squid caught off Antarctica might be the largest one ever seen.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, write the word colossal on a board or chart. Ask students if they know the word and what it means. If they dont know the meaning of the word, provide a few sentences that include the word. Maybe they can figure out its meaning in the context of these sentences:

  • The colossal skyscraper made all the small buildings around it look like ants next to an elephant.
  • The tornado left behind a colossal mess.
  • My next door neighbor won a colossal sum of money in the lottery.

    Ask students to provide some synonyms for the word colossal. They might include on their list words such as huge, monstrous, enormous, gigantic, immense, or massive.

    News Words

    Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: New Zealand, squid, Antarctic, hauled, colossal, surface, tentacles, and calamari. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar to students. Identify on a world map the location of New Zealand. Then ask students to use one of the words to complete each of these sentences:

  • Most of the worlds penguins live in the _____ region of the world. (Antarctic)
  • The jellyfish uses its _____ to sting its prey and to protect itself. (tentacles)
  • Even thought the island country of _____ is located in the Pacific Ocean, it is ruled by the Queen of England. (New Zealand)
  • The game was a _____ disaster because my team lost by 20 points. (colossal)
  • I had to decide whether to order the fried shrimp or the fried _____. (calamari)
  • There are many different species of _____. (squid)
  • We watched from the boat, hoping that we would see a dolphin leap above the _____ of the ocean. (surface)
  • The tractor trailor _____ 2 tons of steel beams. (hauled)

    Read the News

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

  • Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

  • Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

  • Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

  • Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.
  • Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Colossal Squid Caught in Antarctic.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • Share this image of the colossal squid caught off Antarctica. (Photo source: National Geographic)
  • The colossal squid was almost dead when it was pulled aboard by the crew of the San Aspiring. The ships crew worked carefully to get the squid aboard in good condition. Scientists say it is probably the first intact adult male colossal squid to ever be successfully landed.
  • The fishermen were fishing the freezing waters of the Ross Sea, south of New Zealand, for Patagonian toothfish, also known as Chilean sea bass. Toothfish, which can grow to be 6 feet long, are a main source of food for the colossal squid.
  • If estimates are correct, the newly found squid would be 330 pounds heavier than the next biggest specimen ever found. Further study will confirm if this is the largest specimen.
  • "When this animal was alive, it really had to be one of the most frightening predators out there. It's without parallel in the oceans," Dr. Steve O'Shea, an internationally recognized squid expert, told the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). OShea believes this colossal squid was still young. "It's only half to two-thirds grown," he said.
  • The colossal squid is sometimes called the Antarctic squid. It is named for the waters in which it is found. It ranges from the coast of Antarctica to the southern tips of South America, South Africa, and New Zealand.
  • Colossal squid are not related to giant squid. They are wider, which is the reason they are heavier. The giant squids tentacles have suckers with small teeth; the suckers at the end of a colossal squids tentacles have two rows of sharp swiveling hooks on them. The main body, or mantle, of the colossal squid is bigger than that of the giant squid; but the colossal squids tentacles are shorter.
  • The colossal squid is the largest known invertebrate. As with most invertebrates, the female is generally larger than the male.
  • Scientists believe the colossal squid is an aggressive hunter.
  • Squid are considered by many to be a seafood delicacy. They often appear on restaurant menus in fried form (fried calamari). The colossal squid, however, would not be very appetizing to humans. First, the calamari rings would be as big as tractor tires. Also, large squid usually contain high levels of ammonia and their meat is said to taste like floor cleaner.
  • Sperm whales prey on the colossal squid. Scientists know that because theyve found many colossal squid beaks in the stomachs of sperm whales. They estimate that colossal squid make up three quarters of the sperm whales diet.
  • Scientists believe that many of the large scars found on whales bodies are the result of contact with the suckers and hooks of the colossal squid.
  • Many smaller animals -- including bottlenose and pilot whales, elephant seals, sharks, and albatross -- prey on young colossal squid, which are commonly found from the oceans surface to 3,000 feet deep.
  • Some experts worry that toothfish, which are a primary source of food for the colossal squid, are being overfished.

    Comprehension Check

    Recalling Detail
    You might follow-up that activity by asking some of these questions:

  • Was the squid the fishermen found a male or female? (male)
  • How much did it weigh? (it weighed about 990 pounds)
  • How long did it take the fishermen to haul the squid onto the deck of their ship? (2 hours)
  • What were the fishermen fishing for? (toothfish)
  • Why did the fishermen take the squid to a museum? (so scientists could study it)
  • Which type of squid has longer tentacles -- the giant squid or the colossal squid? (the giant squid)
  • How many arms does a colossal squid have? (eight)

    Think About the News
    Discuss the Think About the News questions that appear on the students news page. You might use the think-pair-share strategy with students to discuss the questions. If you use this strategy

  • First, arrange students into pairs to discuss and list responses to the questions.
  • Then merge two pairs of students together to create groups of four students. Have them discuss and add to the ideas they generated in their pairs.
  • Next, merge two groups of four students to form groups of eight students. Have students create a new combined list of ideas.
  • Finally, bring all students together for a class discussion about the kinds of things scientists might learn from studying the colossal squid.

    Follow-Up Activities

    Measurement. This image of the colossal squid includes a graphic that compares the length of a squid to the length of a school bus. Measure some other large things and compare the length of a colossal squid to them. Draw a pictorial comparison similar to the one in this image that compares the squids length to a bus.

    Geography. Have students use the scale of miles on a world map to determine the number of miles between the southern tips of 1) New Zealand, 2) South America, and 3) Africa and the closest points in Antarctica. Then students might find the distance between Antarctica and some other locations around the world.

    Synonyms. In the Anticipation Guide part of this lesson, students came up with many synonyms for the word colossal. Remind them of some of the words they listed. Then reinforce your students synonym skills by using one or more of these synonym activities:

  • Synonym Match-Up
  • Synonym Concentration
  • Using Synonyms
  • Synonyms: Worksheet Printouts


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section of this Teachers Guide.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    MATHEMATICS: Measurement
    GRADES Pre-K - 2
    NM-MEA.PK-2.1 Understand Measurable Attributes of Objects and the Units, Systems, and Processes of Measurement
    NM-MEA.PK-2.2 Apply Appropriate Techniques, Tools, and Formulas to Determine Measurements
    GRADES 3 - 5
    NM-MEA.3-5.1 Understand Measurable Attributes of Objects and the Units, Systems, and Processes of Measurement
    NM-MEA.3-5.2 Apply Appropriate Techniques, Tools, and Formulas to Determine Measurements
    GRADES 6 - 8
    NM-MEA.6-8.1 Understand Measurable Attributes of Objects and the Units, Systems, and Processes of Measurement
    NM-MEA.6-8.2 Apply Appropriate Techniques, Tools, and Formulas to Determine Measurements
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NM-MEA.9-12.1 Understand Measurable Attributes of Objects and the Units, Systems, and Processes of Measurement
    NM-MEA.9-12.2 Apply Appropriate Techniques, Tools, and Formulas to Determine Measurements

    MATHEMATICS: Representation
    GRADES Pre-K - 12
    NM-REP.PK-12.1 Create and Use Representations to Organize, Record, and Communicate Mathematical Ideas
    NM-REP.PK-12.3 Use Representations to Model and Interpret Physical, Social, and Mathematical Phenomena

    GRADES K - 4
    NS.K-4.3 Life Science
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NS.5-8.3 Life Science
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NS.9-12.3 Life Science

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
    GRADES K - 12
    NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms
    NSS-G.K-12.2 Places and Regions

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2007 Education World