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What a catch!

FEB. 28 — New Zealand fishermen long lining for toothfish off Antarctica hauled in what might be the largest squid ever caught — with rings the size of tractor tires.

It took the fishermen nearly two hours to maneuver the colossal squid — weighing an estimated 990 pounds and measuring nearly 40 feet in length — into a cargo net and haul it on board, New Zealand’s Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton says in a statement. It could be the first intact male colossal squid to ever be caught.

“The scientific community will be very interested in this amazing creature as it adds immeasurably to our understanding of the marine environment,” Anderton says in the statement.

The crew of the fishing vessel San Aspiring had been fishing in the RossSea when they found the half-ton squid eating a toothfish that had been hooked, according to information in the statement. “The squid was almost dead when it reached the surface, and the careful work of the crew was paramount in getting this specimen aboard in good condition,” says Anderton.

Colossal squid are estimated to grow as long as 46 feet, the statement says. If original measurements are correct, this specimen weighs 330 pounds more than the next-largest squid ever found. Officials plan to ship the squid to New Zealand’s national museum where it will be preserved for scientific studies.

Jason Fell