Giant squids are not your friends. In antiquity they were thought of as sea monsters, and for the last few centuries, sightings have been so rare that they've been documented in a single, uncommonly exacting, comprehensive Wikipedia spreadsheet. A small (12-feet-long) one made international news when it was spotted in Japan's Toyama Bay in December 2015, and another one was found off the coast of Ireland earlier this year.
So it's hard to know how to react when one wraps its tentacles around your friend's paddle board. That shock and awe is what a video shot off the coast of South Africa and posted to Instagram by user James Taylor (@ejamestaylor) last week depicts. The woman who filmed the video understandably yelled "Shit!" a lot.
As Taylor explained in his Instagram post and the comments below, he and the two friends he was paddle boarding with in Melkbosstrand -- about 22 miles from nearby Cape Town -- came across the injured squid from "just behind the waves." The squid had been wounded by an encounter with another predator and wasn't likely to live long. Commenters on Instagram expressed indignation that the video depicts Taylor hoisting the creature with a length of rope before it wraps its tentacles around his paddle board.
"Unfortunately it was very badly injured," Taylor explained. "Had lost a couple of tentacles and had some bite marks on the upper part of its body so it didn't make it. It was already very week [sic] when we caught it."
According to Taylor, the friends "wanted to try get it to the beach for research purposes before it got more damaged by seals in the area."
Exactly how large this particular squid was remains unclear, but the first few seconds of video sees the camera dip below the water for a murky look at its full body. It's certainly larger than Taylor's paddle board, with tentacles that curl underneath its floating body in the water. Judging from just the video, I'd estimate it to be at least 15 feet long.