Japanese scientists have pulled a legend from the depths of the Pacific Ocean- and have the footage to prove it.
In July of 2012 Japan’s National Science Museum teamed up with Japanese broadcaster NHK and the US Discovery Channel to track and film the elusive giant squid.
The three-person crew stalked the rare cephalopod for a total of 400 hours spread over nearly 100 missions. Using a small submersible vessel, the team descended to a depth of 2,066 feet (630 meters) nine miles off the coast of Chichi island in the northern Pacific before finally catching up with their target.
“It was shining and so beautiful,” researcher Tsunemi Kubodera told the Agence France-Presse (AFP). “I was so thrilled when I saw it first hand, but I was confident we would because we rigorously researched the areas we might find it, based on past data.”
The crew pursued the invertebrate monster to a depth of 2,700 feet, before the crushing pressure and lack of light forced them to relinquish their quarry.
“Researchers around the world have tried to film giant squid in their natural habitats,” said Kubodera. “But all attempts were in vain before.”
“With this footage we hope to discover more about the life of the species,” he continued, adding that he planned to publish his findings soon.
After making its underwater film debut, the creature was hooked and brought to the surface, where it was measured to be about 10 feet (3 meters) long. Kubodera told AFP that the squid was “estimated to be as long as eight metres if its two long arms had not been chopped off,” neglecting to explain the reason for the severed limbs.
Mr. Kubodera was involved in the first live filming of a giant squid in 2006, but only after the specimen had been hooked and brought to the surface.
The giant squid, dubbed “Architeuthis” by scientists, remains one of Earth’s most mysterious creatures, since its natural habitat has proven resistant to human exploration.
Architeuthis eats other, smaller squids (one of which was used as bait to lure the recent specimen), along with a deep-sea fish species known as grenadier. The largest members of the Architeuthis species can grow to a length of 33 feet and weigh 450 pounds, say researchers.
The purported source of various legends around the world, including the Norse ‘Kraken’, the creature employs eight thick arms lined with chitin-toothed suction cups and two long tentacles to latch onto its prey, before pulling them in to devour with its beak.
Sperm whales are one of the giant squid’s few natural predators. Most specimens to date have been discovered in the giant mammals’ stomachs.
It also may surprise some readers to learn that an even larger squid prowls the waters off Antarctica– the aptly named colossal squid. This deep-sea leviathan wields tentacles equipped with movable barbs, and can grow up to 46 feet long.
The US Discovery Channel is scheduled to release a full report on the giant squid (including the impatiently-awaited footage) on January 27 as the final episode of its Curiosity series, entitled “Monster Squid: The Giant is Real”.
Watch a sneak peek below from ABC News: