A Japanese crew has captured the giant squid in its natural habitat in the Pacific Ocean for the first time. The mission was organized by the Japan National Science Museum in collaboration with the Japanese broadcaster NHK and the US Discovery Channel.
The giant squid, Architeuthis, is known as one of the "last mysteries of the ocean."
The team, composed of scientists, engineers, technicians and submarine pilots filmed the 10-feet (3 meters) long deep-sea mollusk nine miles east of Chichi Island in the North Pacific Ocean, at a depth of about a third of a mile (half a kilometer).
According to Phys.Org, the mission involved more than 400 hours in a cramped submersible and 100 submarine dives to depths greater than 3,000 feet.
The first footage of the giant squid was captured from the three-man submersible at a depth of 2,066 feet (630 metres). The crew followed the squid to a depth of about 2,953 feet (900m) before it disappeared into the dark abyss of the ocean.
Museum researcher Tsunemi Kubodera, told AFP: "It was shining and so beautiful. I was so thrilled when I saw it first hand, but I was confident we would, because we rigorously researched the areas we might find it, based on past data."
This is not the first time that the image of a giant squid has been captured, but other videos filmed the creatures after they had died.
The giant squid filmed at more than 600m underwater
AFP reports that Kubodera says he filmed a live giant squid in 2006 after it had been hooked and brought aboard a boat. According to the Daily Mail, the squid was a 23-feet female snared with a bait lowered from a research ship and hauled to the surface.
The latest filmiing is the first of a giant squid in its natural habitat.
The Daily Mail also reports that the first photograph of a giant squid was taken in 1874 when the Reverend Moses Harvey, a Newfoundland amateur naturalist, bought one from a fisherman who caught it accidentally.
Giant squids have also been found washed ashore dead.
ABC News reports that Eileen O'Neill, group President of Discovery and TLC Networks, said in a news release Monday: "This latest production, four years in the making, is a world-first achievement for television, and I’m excited to share it."
The giant squid filmed at about half a kilometer underwater
According to ABC News, the giant squid has been the subject of sailors' legends and myths for centuries. Stories and legends of a huge deep-sea beast similar to the giant squid are widely known. It is believed that the Nordic legend of Kraken, a sea monster that attacks ships in Scandinavian waters, arose from encounters with the giant squid.The popular legends portray the giant squid as a fearsome creature.
According to Marine biologists, the squid belongs to the molluscan class Cephalopoda. The giant squid and the closely related colossus squid, have the largest known eyes in the animal kingdom.
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History reports that the biggest confirmed specimen of a giant squid is 43 feet (13m).
Squids have eight arms and two feeding tentacles longer that the arms. The feeding tentacles are equipped with suckers and sharp structures used for pulling prey into the animal's sharp beak.
The Daily Mail reports that giant squid feed on other squids and grenadier fish. Sperm whales are known to prey upon them. According to the Daily Mail, injuries on the skin of whales, and remains of squids in the stomach of whales suggest that sometimes whales and giant squids engage in keenly contested battles. In 1965, a whaler witnessed a giant squid and a 40 tonne sperm whale in mortal combat.
The squid's head was reportedly recovered from the whale's stomach after the whale died. It was said to have been strangled by the squid's tentacles rapped around it.
According to ABC News, the new footage will be aired in the Discovery Channel’s “Monster Squid: The Giant is Real," at 8 p.m. ET Jan. 27.
The Huffington Post reports the video has already been aired in Japan in an NHK broadcast and a portion of the footage was uploaded to YouTube.