How a rare squid caught near Whakaari White Island could explain the impact of the eruption

A large squid found near Whakaari White Island could help researchers trace the volcanic toxins released during last year's eruption.

Scientists dissected the taningia squid - a female weighing 100kg and spanning 1.5m in length - on Thursday. It's one of the world's rarest and largest species.

"This one, in particular, is exciting," Auckland University of Technology's Dr Kat Bolstad told Newshub.

"It's a species that only got recognised quite recently. So it's a fairly new species and it's certainly the biggest one I've ever seen."

It was caught last month already dead by fishermen at a depth of 1km near Whakaari White Island. 

The taningia has many unique features, including the largest known light organs, which flash brightly in the darkness. 

Unlike most squid, the species has no suckers on its arms. Instead, it has cat-like claws - almost 200 on each tentacle. 

"One suggestion is that maybe those claws help handle prey that's softer in the body rather than hard, so they really get a grip on soft tissues," Dr Bolstad said

Because it was found near Whakaari, researchers will examine how toxins released during last year's eruption spread up the food chain.

"We're just looking at another aspect of the food web and one that's very rarely encountered," the University of Waikato's Nicholas Ling said. "So it extends our knowledge to how those heavy metals might move through the food chain."

Auckland Museum is also taking samples to put in its marine collection for future reference. 

"What we're taking today is some of the really diagnostic features - so the funnel and things like that - that show us what species it is," the museum's senior collection manager Rebecca Bray explained.

"So if anyone wants to look back in the future at the specimens, and look at the characteristics and say 'yes it was that'."

It's a catch helping document one of the ocean's most elusive creatures.