Giant Squid Filmed in Pacific Depths

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Never-before-seen images are part of a Discovery Channel documentary on the largest creatures of the deepest oceans.

Scientists and broadcasters have captured footage of

an elusive giant squid, up to eight meters (26 feet) long that roams

the depths of the Pacific Ocean.

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Japan's National Science Museum

succeeded in filming the deep-sea creature in its natural habitat for

the first time, working with Japanese public broadcaster NHK and the US

Discovery Channel.

The massive invertebrate is the stuff of

legend, with sightings of a huge ocean-dwelling beast reported by

sailors for centuries.

The creature is thought to be the genesis

of the Nordic legend of Kraken, a sea monster believed to have attacked

ships in waters off Scandinavia over the last millennium.

Modern-day

scientists on their own Moby Dick-style search used a submersible to

get them into the dark and cold depths of the northern Pacific Ocean,

where at around 630 meters they managed to film a three-meter specimen.

Credit: Discovery Channel

After

around 100 missions, during which they spent 400 hours in the cramped

submarine, the three-man crew tracked the creature from a spot some 15

kilometers (nine miles) east of Chichi island in the north Pacific

Ocean.

Museum researcher Tsunemi Kubodera said they followed the

enormous mollusc to a depth of 900 meters as it swam into the ocean

abyss.

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NHK showed footage of the silver-colored creature, which

had huge black eyes, as it swam against the current, holding a bait

squid in its arms.

For Kubodera it was the culmination of a lengthy quest for the beast.

"It

was shining and so beautiful," Kubodera told 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."

Kubodera

said the creature had its two longest arms missing, and estimated it

would have been eight meters long if it had been whole. He gave no

explanation for its missing arms.

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He said it was the first video

footage of a live giant squid in its natural habitat — the depths of

the sea where there is little oxygen and the weight of the water above

exerts enormous pressure.

Kubodera, a squid specialist, also

filmed what he says was the first live video footage of a giant squid in

2006, but only from his boat after it was hooked and brought up to the

surface.

"Researchers around the world have tried to film giant

squid in their natural habitats, but all attempts were in vain before,"

Kubodera said.

"With this footage we hope to discover more about

the life of the species," he said, adding that he planned to publish his

findings soon.

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Kubodera said the two successful sightings of the

squid — in 2012 and 2006 — were both in the same area, some 1,000

kilometres south of Tokyo, suggesting it could be a major habitat for

the species.

The giant squid, "Architeuthis" to scientists, is

sometimes described as one of the last mysteries of the ocean, being

part of a world so hostile to humans that it has been little explored.

Researchers

say Architeuthis eats other types of squid and grenadier, a species of

fish that lives in the deep ocean. They say it can grow to be longer

than 10 meters.

Discovery Channel’s Monster Squid: The Giant Is Real, premieres on Sunday, Jan. 27 at 10/9c as the season finale of Curiosity.

–AFP