Giant Squid Captured, Filmed for First Time
December 22, 2006—Like pulling a shadow from the darkness, researchers in Japan have captured and filmed a live giant squid—likely for the first time—shedding new light on the famously elusive creatures. Tsunemi Kubodera, a scientist with Japan’s National Science Museum, caught the 24-foot (7-meter) animal earlier this month near the island of Chichijima, some 600 miles (960 kilometers) southeast of Tokyo.
His team snared the animal using a line baited with small squid and shot video of the russet-colored giant as it was hauled to the surface.
The squid, a young female, “put up quite a fight” as the team attempted to bring it aboard, Kudobera told the Associated Press, and the animal died from injuries sustained during the capture.
Giant squid, the world’s largest invertebrates, are thought to reach sizes up to 60 feet (18 meters), but because they live at such great ocean depths they have never been studied in the wild.
Kubodera has spent three years searching for the creatures, and his team scored a coup in 2004 when it used a remote underwater camera to take the first-ever photographs of a live giant squid.
The capture may be a sign that giant squid are more plentiful than had been thought, Kubodera said, and the event could help open up more fruitful research into the poorly understood animal.
“Now that we know where to find them, we think we can be more successful at studying them in the future,” he said.
First photos taken of a live giant squid
This extraordinary image, captured by Japanese scientists, marks the first-ever record of a live giant squid in the wild. The mysterious deep-sea creature has inspired countless sea monster tales and a variety of scientific expeditions.
The giant squid was photographed 2,950 feet (900 meters) beneath the North Pacific Ocean in Japanese waters, where scientists attracted it toward cameras on a baited fishing line.
The photo sequence, taken off Japan’s Ogasawara Islands last September, shows the moment that one of the squid’s two elongated tentacles broke off the animal (top image). The severed body part is reeled onto the research vessel in the lower photograph. The researchers captured more than 500 photographs of the giant squid before its tentacle broke off and it swam away.
The researchers recovered a tentacle from the giant squid after it escaped. Analysis confirmed that the tentacle belonged to the species. The tentacle measured 18 feet (5.5 meters) long. Using its size as a guide, the team estimates the animal was 26 feet long (8 meters). The longest giant squid on record measured 59 feet (18 meters), including its two elongated tentacles.
Many giant squid have washed up on beaches or have been found dead or dying in fishing nets. This specimen was found in New Zealand in 1996.
Scientists examine a giant squid found in New Zealand in 2004.
An artist’s conception of two giant squid in combat with a sperm whale. Scientists often find the remains of the large squid in the whales’ stomachs. In addition, marks made by squid suckers have been seen on whale skins. The Japanese researchers captured the first images of a live giant squid using sperm whales as guides to likely giant squid haunts.
The first photographs of a live giant squid were made with automated cameras
attached to fishing lines baited with squid and bags of mashed shrimp.
The giant squid was photographed off the Ogasawara Islands, southeast of Japan.
Source: National Geographic
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