Giant squid caught on camera

Never-before-seen footage of a giant squid in its natural habitat, off the shore of Japan, will be revealed late this month, after researchers from Discovery Channel and NHK joined forces to hunt the 10-foot long beast. Monster Squid: The Giant Is Real will air on January 27 in the US, and follows 55 submarine dives with twin submersibles used to comb the ocean for the elusive animal.

The documentary is the first time the giant squid has been caught on video, although not the first time it has been seen in the wild. Researchers took photos of the animal back in 2004, and another was seen a couple of years later on the surface of the ocean; however, Discovery Channel says that this is the only time one has been observed in its natural habitat.

"With razor-toothed suckers and eyes the size of dinner plates, tales of the creature have been around since ancient times. The Norse legend of the sea monster the Kraken and the Scylla from Greek mythology might have derived from the giant squid. This massive predator has always been shrouded in secrecy, and every attempt to capture a live giant squid on camera in its natural habitat, considered by many to be the Holy Grail of natural history filmmaking, has failed. Until now" Discovery Channel/NHK

Like the most bizarre speed-dating experience in history, the teams used "two deep sea submersibles with panoramic views, ultra-sensitive camera systems with light invisible to squid, bio luminescent lures and secret squid attractants" in their quest. Tsunemi Kubodera of the Japan National Science Museum told AFP that the squid would have been eight meters long had it still had its longest tentacles, which were missing.

"It was shining and so beautiful" he said of the animal. "I was so thrilled when I saw it first hand."

The footage was filmed at up to 900 meters below the surface, though the team took in excess of 285 hours underwater to secure the film. The squid, species "Architeuthis", is feeds on other squid and fish.

[via BoingBoing]