The Giant Squid
For more than 50 years, science had searched in vain for the giant squid—a 60-foot monster straight out of seafaring myth. But it took the Alucia, and a team of inventive researchers working with NHK, to finally bring it to life.
Led by Dr. Tsunemi Kubodera, the team included bioluminescence expert Dr. Edith Widder. Her research suggested previous expeditions may have failed because the remotely operated vehicles used—which are brightly lit and relatively noisy—were simply scaring the squid away. This team would search in an entirely new way.
Using the Alucia’s manned submersibles, they descended more than 900 meters into the deep ocean off the Ogasawara Islands, south of Tokyo. Guided only by infrared light—invisible to most sea creatures—they deployed a novel optical lure, developed by Dr. Widder, that mimicked the distress call of a common jellyfish. Then they waited, in total silence, for the giant squid to come to them.
It took six weeks of dives, but their patience was finally rewarded with breathtaking images of the once mythical squid—images that captured the attention of the world, sparking extensive media coverage that pushed the oceans and their undiscovered secrets into everyday discussion.
It was an amazing story of discovery—but the bigger story, perhaps, is that a creature of such incredible size could have remained hidden from human eyes for so long. It underscores how little we know of our oceans, and how much we still have to learn.
|Firsts:||First live images of a giant squid captured at depth (900m)|
|Principal Investigator:||Tsunemi Kubodera, Japan's National Museum of Nature and Science|
|Affiliation:||Japan's National Museum of Nature and Science|
|Team:||Edith Widder (ORCA), Steve O'Shea|
|Goal:||To collect the first footage ever recorded of Architeuthis dux in its natural habitat|
|Location:||Japan’s Ogasawara Archipelago|
Kubodera, T. & K. Mori, 2005, First-ever observations of a live giant squid in the wild. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 272(1581):2583-2586.
Kubodera, T., Y. Koyama, and Mori, K., 2006, Observations of wild hunting behaviour and bioluminescence of a large deep-sea, eight-armed squid, Taningia danae, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (published online).