Giant Squid: Still a Deep Mystery

Giant squid
'Monster Squid: The Giant is Real'

The recent unprecedented video footage of a giant squid filmed in its deep ocean habitat has renewed interest in the enormous -- and yet still mysterious -- species.

It's believed that giant squid (genus Architeuthis) can grow up to 55 feet long. The individual captured on video via a small submarine located in the North Pacific Ocean was about 30 feet long and silver and gold in color, marine biologist Edie Widder, who helped to shoot the footage, said. Her colleague Tsunemi Kubodera added that the squid was missing its two longest tentacles.

Cephalopod experts are intrigued by the world record footage.

PHOTOS: The Elusive Giant Squid

"It was really thrilling to see the press releases concerning the filming of a living giant squid with a manned submersible," William Gilly, a professor of biology at Stanford University and the Hopkins Marine Station, told Discovery News.

Gilly previously examined a 7-foot-long giant squid that weighed 300 pounds. It was found floating dead in Monterey Bay, Calif.

"It was missing the tentacles and its stomach had been removed through a hole in its body," he said. "Something strange must like to eat those parts, I guess!"

He also noted that the color-changing system, which functions using organelles called chromatophores that contain pigment and reflect light, was present very deep inside the giant squid's body cavity. In smaller species, this system is arranged only on the body’s outer surface.

In recent months, researchers have also learned more about giant squid eyes. The diameter of these eyes measures two to three times that of any other animal.

Dan-Eric Nilsson of Lund University determined that giant squid eyes measure 10 inches, making them about the same size as a large dinner plate. Big is optimal for sight in deep-water environments.

Recommended for you