The Daily Matter

Video: First footage of the giant squid in its natural habitat

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 January, 2013, 5:06pm
UPDATED : Monday, 18 February, 2013, 10:27pm

Below the thunders of the upper deep; Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea, His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee About his shadowy sides: above him swell Huge sponges of millennial growth and height; And far away into the sickly light, From many a wondrous grot and secret cell Unnumber'd and enormous polypi Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.There hath he lain for ages and will lie Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep, Until the latter fire shall heat the deep; Then once by man and angels to be seen, In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

The Kraken
Lord Alfred Tennyson

Their elusiveness makes them the stuff of legends: Monsters that rise from the depths of the oceans to wrap their tentacles around unsuspecting ships taking sailors to their watery graves. The Discovery Channel and Japanese broadcaster NHK have unveiled some of the first footage of the giant squid in its natural habitat. In this case, more than 600 metres underwater and around a 1,000 kilometres south of Tokyo.

It took the researchers over 100 missions, and over 400 hours in a cramped submarine, until they were able to track down the mollusc and follow it to almost a kilometre below the ocean surface.

Squid expert Tsunemi Kubodera said the two successful sightings of the squid in 2012 and 2006 were both in the same area, suggesting it could be a major habitat for the species.

The squid filmed by Kubodera and Edie Widder was around 30 feet long (9.14 metres) with a shiny silver and gold tinge.

Hunted by sperm whale, their dinner plate-sized eyes are thought to be so big as to track the tiny glow bioluminescent phytoplankton and creatures let off as the whales bump into them swimming about the great big blue.

We’ve shown this video before on The Daily Matter, but it feels rather appropriate here to show what might be happening far below the waves.

Architeuthis, as the squid is also known, eats other types of squid and grenadier, a deep sea species of fish.

They are thought to grow up to 13 metres in length, only second to the colossal squid, which have been estimated to grow to 14 metres.

See the full documentary on the scientist’s search on the Discovery Channel series Curiosity. (You’ll need a VPN for this, Discovery has yet to make it available in Hong Kong.)

And for those of you with a real thirst for deep sea exploration, you might want to read about the robot takeover of ocean science.