When giant squid ruled the northern sea

By (author) Jenny Higgins
Categories: Science
Publisher: Boulder Books
Hardcover : 9781989417621, 80 pages, October 2023

Table of contents

Part One: From Mythology to Reality

Part Two: The 1870s — A Decade of Devilfish

Part Three: The 20th Century and Beyond


The world did not truly believe in giant squid until the 1870s, when record numbers of the mysterious creatures appeared in the waters and beaches around the island of Newfoundland. Photographs that appeared in international newspapers and physical specimens sent to ivy league laboratories accomplished what eye-witness accounts had been attempting for centuries: to prove beyond doubt that giant squid are real. 

Thrilling tales and images of “devilfish” spread around the globe and shaped the animal’s public image as a delightfully terrifying enigma suspended at the boundary of fable and fact. As a newly acknowledged member of the animal kingdom, the giant squid was an object for scientific study. At the same time, though, the public imagination playfully cloaked the mollusc in mystery; a real-life sea monster who had acquired many of the attributes of the Kraken and sea serpent. 

Devilfish contains more than 130 images and 10 pull-out facsimile documents. They are meant in equal parts to inform and delight—to explain the remarkable history of the giant squid while building a sense of wonderment and fun. Also include are dozens of bite-sized sidebars. Consider this a pop-up book for adults, grounded in research and reaching for the wondrous.