Earlier this month, a live giant squid (Architeuthis dux) was found washed up on a shore at the Ugu beach in Obama, Japan. The little giant, measuring just over 3 metres (9 feet) in length, is considered small for its kind compared to some of its bigger tentacled friends who have been recorded to measure up to a whopping 18 metres (59 feet) in length.

Japanese authorities recognized straight away that this was no ordinary seaside discovery as these elusive creatures inhabit the deep ocean and aren’t know to just pop up for a visit. Their rare appearances and unfathomable size raise increasing fascination amongst ocean researchers. The giant squid is a prime example of deep-sea gigantism which indicates that creatures from the deep tend to grow significantly larger than those that inhabit shallow waters.

Apart from their size, these deep-sea dwellers have other fascinating characteristics. Their beach-ball sized eyes help them navigate the dark depths of the ocean as they move and feed using their eight arms and two long tentacles. What scientists find particularly interesting is the giant squid’s complex nervous system and brain. There are few opportunities to study these incredible creatures so when one washes up alive, it creates waves in the ocean science community.

Being far from its ocean abyss, this giant squid’s chances of surviving in the shallow waters are slim. Authorities have transported it to a local aquarium.