Giant squid are incredibly difficult to catch on camera in the wild — the number of times it has happened can be counted on one hand. But scientists just released video of the first time a giant squid has been filmed in the waters of the United States.
CNN reports that the scientists funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research were on a two-week mission in the Gulf of Mexico about 100 miles off the coast of Louisiana and Alabama when they made the historic discovery.
The crew had deployed a special camera called Medusa outfitted with an “electric jellyfish” that’s designed to attract deep sea creatures. It’s the same system that team member Dr. Edie Widder used when she captured the first-ever video of a giant squid deep in the ocean off the coast of Japan back in 2012.
This time the Medusa camera was deployed 5 times for 24-hour recordings at a depth of over 750 meters (2,460 feet), so afterward the team had to sift through 120 hours of footage.
It was during the review process on June 19th that the scientists realized they had caught another giant squid on camera — a roughly 10-foot-long juvenile of a species that can grow to nearly 40 feet (~12m).
“I started to see a tentacle and I got more and more excited and then when the tentacles pulled back there aren’t words to describe it,” Dr. Nathan Robinson tells CNN.
“People started crowding around, shouting, getting pretty excited, but trying not to get too excited,” Dr. Widder tells the New York Times. “Because we had to be sure it really was what we thought it was.”
Scientists reviewed the 25-second clip extensively and concluded that it was indeed a giant squid they had filmed due to the position of the suction cups on the legs.
This is only the second time a giant squid has been filmed in its natural deepwater habitat and the third capture overall — a third video was made in 2015 of a giant squid near the surface of Japan’s Toyama Bay.
“[W]hat do we know? We found the squid after only five Medusa deployments, despite the fact that thousands of ROV and submersible dives in the Gulf of Mexico have not done so,” writes Widder. “This suggests that the animal does not like the bright lights of ROVs and that stealth monitoring of the sort possible with the Medusa can allow us to see what has never been seen before.”