Giant squid scientists say next mission will target colossal squid

January 26, 2013

Giant squid scientists say next mission will target colossal squid

Next up: the colossal squid.

It seems capturing a giant squid on camera for the first time is not enough.

The team of scientists behind capturing footage of the rare giant squid say they plan to set their sights on capturing footage of the much larger colossal squid.

“Nobody has seen a colossal squid in the wild,” says Edie Widder, director of Florida’s Ocean Research and Conservation Association. “To my way of thinking, it’s a bit more interesting than the giant squid.”

“In a heartbeat I’d go look for them,”  he added. “It has bioluminescent eyes. That is something I’d like to see.”

Widder, who was one of the researchers responsible for capturing footage of the giant squid, said the success of tracking down the elusive sea beast — the giant squid — can only be matched by capturing the first images of its larger cousin, the colossal squid.

Working with Japan’s NHK network, the team of researchers have gained national attention for their discovery earlier this month. The team included Widder, biologist Steve O’Shea of the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Tsunemi Kobodera of the National Science Museum of Japan — all of whom are widely considered some of the foremost experts on the giant squid. Footage of the giant squid was released in snippets earlier this month. The full documentary is set to air Sunday in Monster Squid: The Giant Is Real on the Discovery Channel at (8 p.m. ET/PT). Until recently, the 600 pound creature that can grow up to 43 feet long had long eluded and tantalized marine biologists, with many questioning whether it truly existed.

Now the team plans to shift its focus to the colossal squid, which can reach weights of more than 1,000 pounds. Discovered only in the 1920s, the massive cousin of the giant squid has washed ashore on beaches around the world, but it has never been filmed in its natural habitat. Making the mission even more challenging is the fact it lives in cold waters near Antarctica and its natural habitat is largely unexplored.

Widder says they plan on employing some of the lessons learned during their successful mission earlier this year. The biologist said they have researched the best ways for attracting the squid to the camera and hope past experience will guide them in their pursuit of the  the colossal squid.

“We’ve been exploring the deep ocean the wrong way, scaring them off instead of drawing them in,” he noted.

While Sunday’s footage is expected to answer a number of questions, there are still more questions than answers about giant squid. Scientists till remain largely unaware of the squid’s daily behavior patterns, their mating rituals, their ability to thrive and survive at great depths. It’s believed that giant squid (genus Architeuthis) can grow up to 55 feet long, although scientists have conceded that even the squid’s average length is little more than guesswork.

Capturing footage of the colossal squid would likely only add to the mystery. Since so little is known about the colossal squid, almost any new discoveries are likely to overturn existing theories.

Watch the giant squid video:


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