People have long been fascinated by sea monsters. Ancient legends and maps are peppered with words and pictures of deep-sea creatures that have driven the public’s fascination for centuries. One of the legendary sea monsters feared most by the public and those who ply the sea for a living is the giant squid, as depicted in Jules Verne’s classic book 20,000 League’s Under the Sea (published in 1870 and made into a Hollywood blockbuster in 1954).

The public’s fascination hasn’t subsided today in the 21st century. Most recently, all the major news outlets have been reporting on a 1000-lb. specimen found beached in New Zealand. Learn more in Washington Post article.

(Kaikoura Marine Centre and Aquarium)Cue the “Jaws” soundtrack. No, actually, that would be the theme song from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

Kaikoura Marine Centre and Aquarium biologists on New Zealand’s South Island stumbled upon a monster squid on Wednesday in Kaikoura, more than 100 miles from Christchurch. Its mantle measures more than 6 1/2 feet in length and its longest tentacle stretches some 16 feet — making it one “massive specimen.” It weighs more than 1,000 pounds, scientists say.

Marine biologist and aquarium owner Megan Lewis told the Marlborough Express the squid was a mature female, though she did not know its exact age. She also said it was in “pristine” shape.

“They tend to grow very fast and live not very long,” she told the newspaper. She said she did not how it died but noted “the stomach was full so it wasn’t hungry.”

Photos: Kaikoura Marine Center