It’s no secret that mysterious, tentacled creatures lurk in the ocean’s depths. Molly the Mollusk, a colossal squid, gives people a rare chance to view one of these elusive underwater animals.
Molly was accidentally caught off the coast of New Zealand on March 15, 1999, by a fishing trawler. The 27-foot-long cephalopod was donated to the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium that same year. Since returning from the traveling exhibit “Sea Monsters” in 2015, the “Exploration Gallery” (formerly the Shark Attack Theater) now houses Molly’s preserved remains.
Due to the rarity of encounters with colossal squid, scientists are still working to fill in our knowledge about them. One thing that is known, however, is that these creatures possess the largest eye in the animal kingdom. One specimen’s eyes measured up to roughly 11 inches across—that’s larger than your typical dinner plate!
While Molly may be one of the more celebrated residents at Mote, there are plenty of other fascinating things to see there, including live manatees, sharks, jellyfish, anemones, otters, and rays. As of July 2018, there is also an art exhibit featuring sculptures constructed from sea plastic, a creative means of highlighting the threat that such human-made debris poses to our oceans. In 2019, a virtual reality exhibit was installed adjacent to Molly featuring an immersive, 360º ocean experience.