Giant Squid on Video?!

If you haven’t already heard, Discovery Channel announced that they have captured Architeuthis dux, aka the Giant Squid on video.

The giant squid has been captured on video in its natural habitat for the first time ever.  This long-sought after footage — considered by many to be the Holy Grail of natural history filmmaking — will be revealed by Discovery Channel and NHK in January 2013…This massive predator has always been shrouded in secrecy, and every attempt to capture a live giant squid on camera in its natural habitat has failed. Until now. Mankind finally confronts the greatest mystery of the deep as the first-ever footage of a live giant squid in its natural habitat is revealed in Discovery Channel’s Monster Squid: The Giant Is Real, which premieres on Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 10/9c as the season finale of Curiosity. NHK will air their special on the first-ever footage of the giant squid in early January 2013.

squid1This is the first time a Giant Squid has been captured on video at depth.  In 2005 Tsunemi Kubodera of the National Science Museum in Tokyo and Kyoichi Mori of the Ogasawara Whale Watching Association reported in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B (the full paper is freely available here) the first ever photographs of live Giant Squid (photo above).  The photographs are from 2,950 feet (900 meters) beneath the North Pacific Ocean of an individual measuring ~25 feet (8 meters) long.

In 2007, Kubodera again managed to capture evidence of live Giant Squid, this time in video at the surface (video below).  This specimen was a juvenile at ~11 feet (3.5 meters). The new Giant Squid video is supposed to differ as the specimen is alive and at depth, i.e. below the surface.  The Giant Squid in the video below is on the surface and likely dying, as Giant Squid cannot survive in warmer surface waters.

Both specimens were caught off the Ogasawara Islands.  As Kubodera and Mori reported in their 2005 paper

Each year between September and December, sperm whales gather to feed in deep water off Ogasawara Islands (ca 26–27 N, 142 E) in the North Pacific Ocean. Reports in recent years have demonstrated that giant squids are present in the region and are one of the target prey species of the sperm whales (Mori 1997; Mori et al. 1999).

Now admittedly I was skeptical at first. Discovery Channel aired the festering heap of disingenuous television that was Mermaids.  So pardon me if I’m a tad bit skeptical about any claims of “actual video” they may have.

But from various contacts that I trust, I hear the video actually exists, a full 18 minutes of it in full HD format.  I have no other details at this point as Discovery Channel is silent outside of their abysmal press release.

My guess is that the video was probably caught off the Ogasawara Islands again, as this seems to be the go to place for Giant Squid candids.  I also suspect that Kubodera is involved in the project as well as Steve O’Shea.  Steve O’Shea, a long time friend of DSN, has long been known to be working toward the Giant Squid video goal.

As I get more updates I’ll let you know.

I’ll finish with the choice of Discovery Channel’s title for the show, Monster Squid: The Giant Is Real. I don’t know what to hate most.  First is the use of the term monster and the connotations it evokes.  Since when is a Giant Squid a monster?  What is monster supposed to imply here? The other part of the title that bothers me is the Giant Is Real as if every member of the public doesn’t know that Giant Squid are real.  It is also a slap in the face to every scientist who studies Giant Squid and ignores the 100′s of specimens and papers published on them.  <sarcasm> Thank you Discovery Channel for coming along with your fantastic video and proving once and for all that Giant Squids exist.  I wouldn’t know such horrible monsters were real without your important contributions </sarcasm>.  Seriously, Discovery Channel‘s  title reeks of desperation.  They could have called it Hey we have Giant Squid video and everyone would still watch.

Dr. M (1618 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.





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8 comments on “Giant Squid on Video?!
  1. Hey now! I liked Mermaids: The Body Found! In fact I have a half-written screenplay for a pilot, should Syfy ever solicit scripts.

    Science? Of course not. Quality entertainment? Almost.

    But then again I have been running undersea roleplaying games since 1998.

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  6. That video of the giant squid spotting offended me as an American citizen. I observe the news and stay informed as should any proper, tax-paying citizen in the U.S.A. I fully expect the news that is presented to me to be true and not tampered with, and if it’s some bologna government cover up at least they have the decency to make their fib presentable. It was absolutely, cripplingly (if that’s a word) painfully obvious that the “Giant Squid” in the video shown on MSN was, very poorly, computer generated. My Irish-Catholic, Republican and patriotic side would not allow this irreverence to slither by unnoticed. However I will remain diplomatic albeit in the Irish sense of the word, [comment removed by editor]

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