Giant squids have appeared as the feared monster in so many science-fiction stories it's hard to remember we haven't had many opportunities to see them alive. It was only in 2012 that one was filmed on camera for the first time.
On June 19, an expedition with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was again able to spot one of the deep-sea dwellers. The footage is brief and shows an adolescent giant squid -- it's only 10 to 12 feet long -- inspecting a light before darting away into the inky waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It is only the second giant squid to be filmed in its deep-water habitat, and it's the first to be spotted in US waters.
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The crew was elated by the 25-second clip and reached out to Michael Vecchione, a cephalopod expert with NOAA at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, to confirm what they'd seen was indeed a giant squid.
This 25-seconds of footage is significant because scientists still know relatively little about the giant squid. Most of the information is cobbled together from specimens that have washed ashore rather than actual observation of the squid in its habitat.
The squid was attracted to a specialized LED light developed by marine biologist Edie Widder. The lights mimic a glowing jellyfish in distress, something that can attract larger predators to take care of the smaller predator molesting the jellyfish. This device, the Medusa, is the same one that Widder used when she was part of a crew that filmed a giant squid for the first time ever near Japan. The light is attached to a low-light camera in an effort to not scare off the wildlife with the engines of larger vehicles.
h/t New York Times
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