Underwatertimes.com News Service - February 7, 2006 19:57 EST
giant squid sex

scientists no longer think the giant squid are cannibals but does enjoy bizarre mating rituals

The bizarre sex life of the giant squid is one of the topics at an international cephalopod conference in Hobart this week.

Marine biologists are continuing to unlock the secrets of the giant squid, saying the deep-sea monster may not be a cannibal as previously thought.

It was thought the species was cannibalistic when parts of a fellow giant squid were found in the stomach of a specimen caught off Tasmania's west coast in 1999.

But New Zealand based marine biologist Steve O'Shea believes that was the result of some bizarre mating methods.

He says the creatures do not mean to eat each other but the females accidentally bite bits off of the males during mating.

"It's not intentional cannibalism, it's certainly inadvertent," he said.

The first images of a giant squid in the wild were released last year and have given researchers more insight into the behaviour of the notoriously elusive creatures.

Japanese zoologist Tsunemi Kubodera used a remote control camera to photograph the deep-sea giant attacking a bait.

"We estimate our specimen must be more than eight metres in total length, so it's a huge squid," he said.

He will present the photos at the conference today.