Giant squid sex: violent, tangled and deeply weird

In the violent tangle that is sex between giant squids, almost anything can happen, including accidentally injecting yourself with firehose-pressure blasts of sperm.
The report goes on: "Although mating has never been observed in giant squid, it is thought that what happens is that the male injects his sperm packages into the female's arms. The process is likely to be a fairly violent affair as the female is probably not that keen on being injected. This is a problem for the amorous male as females are normally a third bigger than they are.

"But males get round their inferior size by being endowed with a particularly long penis, which means they can inject the female without having to get too close to her chomping beak. The male's sexual organ is actually a bit like a high-pressure fire hose and is normally nearly as long as his body - excluding legs and head.

"But having such a big penis does have one drawback: it seems that co-ordinating eight legs, two feeding tentacles and a huge penis, whilst fending off an irate female, is a bit too much to ask, and one of the two males stranded on the Spanish coast had accidentally injected himself with sperm packages in the legs and body. And this does not seem to have been an isolated incident since two of the eight males that had stranded in the north-east Atlantic before had also accidentally inseminated themselves.

Link (via JWZ)


  1. The article is approaching three years old, and is out of date. Since then we have indeed seen footage of a living, swimming Giant Squid, thanks to a team of Japanese scientists.

  2. How do they know they inseminated themselfs? Maybe the squids are not only into violent sex, but also into gang bangs. Could be that the dude got inseminated by a rival/co-worker.

    I second the unicorn, as long as they don’t multiply by ramming their horns into each other… though I guess no one has ever seen mating unicorns :-/

  3. “But having such a big penis does have one drawback: it seems that co-ordinating eight legs, two feeding tentacles and a huge penis, whilst fending off an irate female, is a bit too much to ask”

    I can attest to this.

  4. Unless the sperm packages were DNA tested and matched with the corresponding male, how do we know that the males that were found injected with sperm packages were unable to coordinate their “eight legs, two feeding tentacles and huge penis”? Scientists don’t like to go there, but perhaps the these males were injected by other males in a specifically homosexual encounter (and not the result of uncoordinated ejaculation or a sloppy heterosexual “gang bang”).

    The homosexual option is often left on the cutting room floor simply because it doesn’t fit the heterosexual screenplay most of society lives by.

  5. “nearly as long as his body – excluding legs and head.”

    I’m having trouble with this concept. Isn’t a squid ALL legs and head?

  6. It would have been nice to get more information from the article: Why do squids reproduce by the male sticking his penis into the female’s arms? What possible evolutionary advantage could that have over PIV or eggs?

  7. Ewwwwww.

    Giant squid???


    (I only like squid cooked. That thing is wayyyyyy too far from a fire for me to be comfortable with it.)


  8. If this doesn’t constitute proof for an intelligent designer, I don’t know what would…

  9. #12
    PIV, never heard it before, got it immediately.. is this a common acronym? What wonderful profession might a person have, to use such a phrase regularly? (besides the boringly obvious biologist/zoologist)

    OK, peeps, for this scene we’re going to go PIM, then a little TOC and some PIV before ending on a nice long PIA shot, got lube?

  10. Jean Painleve did a fascinating series of underwater video documentaries between the 1920s and 70s, a few of which documented this sort of thing (which is truly amazing considering just how old they are).

    You can still see a few of them, along with a brilliant soundtrack by Yo La Tengo.

    A few years back, I saw it performed live alongside the video projections, and never imagined that an unsuspecting crowd could become quite so captivated by octopus sex (which is indeed deeply weird, yet oddly captivating).

    Highly recommended, especially if you want to see where David Attenborough and Jacques Cousteau got their inspiration. Yo La Tengo’s brilliant soundtrack seals the deal.

  11. #19,
    I forget where I heard the term. It’s used by some parts of the LGBT community and/or other communities that engage in nontraditional sex in one way or another. I picked it up from some interaction I had with them somewhere. I’m sorry I can’t give more details.

    I still don’t understand why squids would reproduce this way.

  12. why? It works.

    from tentacle sex:

    “First, let me explain a few general features of squid sex. Males produce elaborate spermatophores, illustrated to the left, which are complex packages of sperm. Huge numbers of sperm are stored centrally (1010 sperm, in some species), enclosed in a discharge mechanism that is triggered osmotically or mechanically—basically, it’s like those joke peanut cans that fling out a springy surprise when opened. Squid sex is a process of passing one of these clever novelty items to a female, where it will then go sproing when she lays some eggs.”

    the key word “when”. They save the sperm till needed.

    Re: giant, gay squid gangbangs; apparently so. I imagine they compared DNA. Accident or pleasure? Ask the squid.

  13. Wow, that’s some serious friendly fire!

    Thank you! I’ll be here all week.

    Don’t forget to tip your waitress!

  14. Check out all the human emotions and judgments attributed to the squidlove that NO ONE HAS EVER ACTUALLY SEEN: male squids are “amorous”, females are perhaps “not keen” or “irate”, and the males “accidentally” injected themselves, and their smallness is referred to as “inferior size.”let’s parse this out: the small males with giant penises have to “violently” inseminate enormous angry females while keeping their junk away from the scary “chomping beaks”: I think we just learned a lot more about the mating habits of squid scientists than the actual squids.

    we looove to anthromorphize teh critter secks, but who KNOWS what the hell is goin’ on in those squidbrains and what the hell they’re trying to do down there.

  15. I forwarded this story to a couple of friends. One wrote back:

    “‘Violent, Tangled, and Deeply Weird’ – I think that’s a great t-shirt slogan.”

    I couldn’t agree more, so I threw something together and put it on CafePress. That’s way too good a turn of phrase not to emblazon on clothing.

    So here’s a link, if you’re so inclined.

    I set the markup on everything at a buck, and any dough CafePress sends my way will be donated to Creative Commons.

    I have especially high hopes for the boxers and thongs.

  16. “The male’s sexual organ is actually a bit like a high-pressure fire hose and is normally nearly as long as his body – excluding legs and head.”

    Hmmm. A squid is a cephalopod, from the Greek, meaning “head-legs”, since it consists of a head and legs only; there is no “body” per se. So if we exclude legs and head, the poor fellow is left with a penis of zero length.

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