Squid arm testifies to battle

02:28, Apr 04 2012
Leftovers: Sperm whale MatiMati has the remains of a giant squid arm stuck on the side of his head.

A sperm whale with battle wounds was photographed after fighting a giant squid in a deep canyon off the coast of Kaikoura.

A Whale Watch Kaikoura tour group spotted resident sperm whale, MatiMati, emerge from the Kaikoura Canyon, not far from the coastline, with a piece of a giant squid's arm stuck on its head last Saturday afternoon.

The whales feed on the squid, which can grow up to 20 metres long, in the 1200-metre deep canyon.

Belgian biologist and Whale Watch Kaikoura tour guide Sarah Rousseaux said fights with large squid were rarely witnessed by humans so seeing the evidence was "breath-taking".

"The piece of squid arm was probably still stuck into the head by the suckers or claws on his arm."

Whale Watch crews had been monitoring MatiMati as he had been visiting the canyon over the past three weeks.


"We had seen the whale on the previous trip and caught up with him on the next trip, but in the meanwhile he had been diving to feed for about 45 minutes.

"We noticed he had something on the left side of his head, seeming to be a cut."

The boat moved in closer and, with binoculars and cameras, spotted the squid arm on the whale's head.

The arm had gone by the following day.

Kaikoura Star