A Giant Squid Has Been Caught On Film For The First Time In U.S. Waters
Scientists have captured footage of a giant squid swooping in to inspect a camera light lure during a research trip in the Gulf of Mexico.
Doctor Edie Widder, founder of the Ocean Research and Conservation Association, lead a team on a 15-day research trip called Journey Into Midnight: Light and Life Below the Twilight Zone.
Widder was part of the team that first captured a giant squid on camera in its natural habitat in 2012 off the Ogasawara archipelago in Japan.
She had developed an LED light system for that project called Medusa that has the appearance of a bio-luminescent jellyfish and is cast out on a long plastic line to lure squid in.
The researchers had only observed lantern sharks, deep-sea jellyfish and shrimp before the giant squid appeared.
Doctor Nathan J. Robinson, Widder's colleague who first spotted the creature while downloading files from Medusa, told The New York Times that his heart "felt like exploding" when he saw the tentacles appear on the screen.
The squid is a juvenile and it made a grab at the lure with two tentacles, exploring it briefly before it swam away.
Widder said that the crew watched the 25-second footage on loop to inspect the details of the squid -- the specimen was young and small for the species (it was only three metres long, while fully-grown females can allegedly grow to 13 metres).
This is only the second giant squid that has been filmed in its deep-sea habitat and it was captured approximately 160 kilometres off the coast of New Orleans.
Giant squid are elusive creatures, for obvious deep-sea-related reasons and their existence was previously only marked by carcasses that floated to the surface of the ocean spotted by fisherman or that washed up on shore.
The species was first recorded live in 2006, when researchers suspended bait beneath a boat off the Ogasawara Islands and hooked a 7-metre-long specimen that was dragged to the surface.
The research team wrote on the website of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which funded the research trip, that the giant squids that were "once monsters to be feared are now curious and magnificent creatures that delight".