“On this day in 2006, Japanese scientists successfully filmed the elusive giant squid on video for the first time in history. Very little is known about these enormous tentacled creatures and the first photograph of a live one was only recently caught in 2005. Before these events, live giant squids–the largest invertebrates on Earth–had only been seen by fishermen in the wild.
The giant squid, or Architeuthis, can grow up to 18 metres long, but the female specimen that was captured on film was relatively small–measuring approximately 3.5 metres. She was caught near the island of Chichijima, about 1000 kilometres southeast of Tokyo. Researchers had followed a pod of sperm whales, which are the giant squid’s greatest predator, in their attempt to find one. The squid was eventually caught on a baited hook approximately 650 metres under the sea.
The primary reason that the giant squid are so elusive to scientists is that they spend the majority of their lives in deep water. The mystery surrounding them is such that they have inspired incredible tales for centuries. In Icelandic sagas colossal beasts known as the “”kraken,”” resembling octopuses or squids, are blamed for the sinking of ships. Frightening myths of the kraken were popular then as they are now; giant squid have made numerous nerve-racking appearances in more recent literature from Moby Dick and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea to the James Bond and Harry Potter books. Our fascination and awe of this mysterious creature of the deep seems insatiable.
Although the video caught by the Japanese scientists in 2006 is murky, the footage is clear enough to view the giant squid’s enormous red tentacles wrapping around the bait – which was a smaller squid. Also apparent are the enormous eyes of the giant squid, which—along with those of the colossal squid—are the largest among animals, with a diameter of 25 centimetres.
The video footage marks great progress in the study of these massive invertebrates and researchers continue to utilise improving technology and knowledge in their attempt to wrap their scientific tentacles around these elusive animals.”
Credit: © Stefano Bianchetti/Corbis
Caption: An illustration showing the crew from a French warship trying to catch a giant squid, from “L’Univers Illustre,” 1867.