In February 2007, the longlining vessel San Aspiring was fishing for
Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni Norman) in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. A live colossal squid was brought up on a longline, still holding on to a toothfish. It was later weighed and found to weigh 495 kilogrammes. Fisheries observers on board the vessel recognized the value of the specimen. The huge colossal squid was hauled on board in a landing net and frozen.
At the time, the vessel was being filmed for a documentary on fishing in Antarctic waters. Video footage of the squid alongside the vessel was broadcast widely on television news. This raised considerable public interest in the specimen, and what was going to happen to it.
Under the conditions imposed on exploratory fishing in New Zealand and Antarctic waters by the New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries, the specimen legally belonged to them. In May 2007 the Minister of Fisheries, Jim Anderton, formally gifted the specimen to Te Papa in a ceremony held at the Tory Street laboratories in Wellington.
After the ceremony, the colossal squid was placed in a freezer at Te Papa. The process of planning how to study the specimen and put it on public display began.