For years, the giant squid had remained a modern mystery. Living in the dark depths of the ocean, the creature is difficult for scientists to observe directly. It had also managed to evade all attempts to film it.
That changed last July: For the first time ever, scientists were able to catch the giant squid on video in its natural habitat. They were amazed by what they saw.
“It looked carved out of metal,” Edie Widder, a marine biologist who was part of the team, told reporters. “And it would change from being silver to gold. It was just breathtaking.”
The scientists filmed the squid in the North Pacific Ocean, south of Tokyo, Japan. They followed it down to a depth of 2,952 feet. They shot more than 23 minutes of video before the squid swam off into even murkier depths. The video footage will be released to the public later this month on The Discovery Channel.
CAUGHT ON CAMERA
Tsunemi Kubodera, a zoologist at Japan’s National Museum of Nature and Science, led the team that filmed the squid. The team went into the ocean in a small submarine rigged with lights invisible to both humans and squid. Since giant squid eat smaller squid, the scientists released a small squid as bait. To get the giant squid’s attention, the team also used a lure—created by Widder—that mimics the bioluminescent display of a jellyfish. Then the scientists waited in the pitch black for the giant squid to approach.
The color video shows the creature floating vertically, eating the bait squid. The giant squid is 9 to 10 feet long and is missing its two longest tentacles. With those tentacles, it could have measured up to 26 feet long. It has huge black eyes the size of dinner plates.
“It was shining and so beautiful,” Kubodera told reporters.
Because the deep ocean is so hostile to humans, little is known about the giant squid. Scientists say catching the mysterious creature on video is an important step toward understanding it. For centuries, sailors had reported seeing a huge, ocean-dwelling beast, thought to be the giant squid. The creature is also believed to be the subject of the Nordic myth of the kraken, a sea creature that supposedly attacked ships in Scandinavian waters over the past millennium.