Its eyes are the size of dinner plates; its tentacles, large enough to fashion tractor wheel-sized calamari rings. It stretches longer than a semi-truck, weighs more than a Harley, and glides effortlessly throughout the darkest depths of the Antarctic waters, using razor sharp hooks to gobble up the unlucky that fall into its path.

This is not the tale of a fabled sea monster or an excerpt from a Herman Melville classic. This is the true story of a colossal catch netted by New Zealand fishermen earlier this month. It took two hours to land what is presumably the largest and only mature male specimen of a colossal squid — a rare find indeed.

The squid was alive at capture and feasting on a hooked toothfish, the fishermen’s target catch. It has since been frozen and shipped off to New Zealand’s national museum where it will be preserved for scientific research.

Officials estimated the leviathan to weigh slightly less than 1,000 pounds and measure 39 feet in length.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

This is the second time fishermen have nabbed a colossal squid, the first coming in 2004 with the capture of an immature female in the Ross Sea near the Antarctic coast. These mysterious creatures — not to be confused with giant squid, which are found in waters around New Zealand — are found in Antarctic waters and can plunge to depths of 6,500 feet.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.