Scientists capture giant squid on film
Using a digital camera dangling from a line nearly 3,300 feet long, scientists for the first time have photographed a live giant squid...
By The Washington Post and Reuters
WASHINGTON — Using a digital camera dangling from a line nearly 3,300 feet long, scientists for the first time have photographed a live giant squid, the tentacled deep-sea monster that is the largest invertebrate on Earth.
Researchers Tsunemi Kubodera and Kyoichi Mori, reporting in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, said a giant squid about 26 feet long attacked a baited jig, or lure, trailing below a marker buoy about 500 miles south of Tokyo, near the Ogasawara Islands in the Pacific.
"The initial attack was captured on camera and shows the two long tentacles wrapped in a ball around the bait," wrote Kubodera, of Japan's National Science Museum, and Mori, from the Ogasawara Whale Watching Association. "The giant squid became snagged on the jig."
The camera took 550 digital images over the next several hours while the squid tried repeatedly to free itself. It finally escaped but lost 18 feet of tentacle in the struggle. DNA analysis matched the tentacle with fragments taken from the remains of other dead giant squid over the years.
The giant squid, known by its biological name Architeuthis, has been famous in legend for 2,000 years and was immortalized by Jules Verne's novel "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," in which an ax-wielding Captain Nemo and harpooner Ned Land led the crew of the Nautilus in a vicious battle to free the submarine from smothering tentacles.
Despite the stories, however, very little is known about the giant squid. The first complete specimen, a dead animal captured by fishermen off Newfoundland, was found in 1874. Subsequent remains, either washed up on beaches or trapped in nets, have appeared in high latitudes — Canadian and Japanese waters, or off Tasmania and Australia.
Kubodera and Mori had been hunting the squid for three years by following sperm whales between September and December to a deep-water feeding ground off the Ogasawara Islands. Sperm whales hunt giant squid for food.
"The most dramatic character of giant squids is the pair of extremely long tentacles, distinct from the eight shorter arms," the scientists wrote. .
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