Captured deep beneath the waves: 10-foot squid filmed in natural habitat
A giant squid is seen in video still captured from a submersible by a Japanese-led team of scientists near the Ogasawara Islands in July 2012.
By Arata Yamamoto and Peter Jeary, NBC News
The world's first moving images of a giant squid living in its natural habitat have been captured by a team of scientists led by a Japanese zoologist more than half a mile below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
The ghostly pictures of the 10-foot-long giant squid were recorded from a state-of–the-art submersible carrying a three-person team of zoologist Tsunemi Kubodera, a camera operator and the submersible’s pilot, who made around 100 dives during an expedition in summer 2012.
Although small by giant squid standards – the largest ever caught measured 59 feet – it was the first time a live giant squid had been caught on video deep in the ocean.
Kubodera, from Japan's National Museum of Nature and Science, credited the success to the submersible’s silent running.
“If you try to approach making a lot of noise, using bright lights, then the squid won't come anywhere near you, “ he said. “So we sat there in the pitch black, using a near-infrared light invisible even to the human eye, waiting for the giant to approach.''
On one dive in July 2012, near the Ogasawara islands, 620 miles south of Tokyo, they finally had their close encounter more than 2,000 feet down and followed the creature down further.
“This was the first time for me to see with my own eyes a giant squid swimming,'' Kubodera said. “It was stunning. I couldn't have dreamt that it would be so beautiful. It was such a wonderful creature.”
The squid was missing its characteristic two longest tentacles – and scientists don’t know why. Marine biologists said if that pair of tentacles had been intact, the creature would probably have measured up to 23 feet long.
Kubodera’s deep-sea expedition was the culmination of a 10-year project by Japanese broadcaster NHK to capture pictures of the mysterious creature in its habitat. An ultra-sensitive high-definition camera was developed to operate at the ocean depths, using special light that was invisible to the sensitive eyes of the giant squid.
NHK will air its video footage in Japan on January 13, in a prime time documentary entitled Legends of the Deep: Giant Squid and will be shown on the Discovery Channel on January 27.