It’s not quite the “devilfish” Jules Verne conjured for “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” nor is it likely to “drag ships down into the depths.”
But unlike the horror fantasies imagined time and again in pop culture, this giant squid ― just the second ever to be caught on video in its natural habitat, and the first ever in the Gulf of Mexico ― is decidedly real.
A team of researchers on an expedition funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research captured the video earlier this week at a depth of 759 meters (2,490 feet), 100 miles southeast of New Orleans:
In a blog for NOAA documenting the find, Drs. Sönke Johnsen and Edith Widder describe the giant squid as a 10-to-12-foot-long juvenile that had been lured to a deep-sea device designed to mimic a glowing jellyfish.
For perspective, the largest giant squid ever recorded by scientists was 43 feet long and likely weighed near a ton.
“The old maps often showed serpents at the edge, with the warning ‘here be monsters,’” Johnsen and Widder wrote. “However, the ‘monsters’ are here, in our own backyard.”
“Most importantly, we did not find a monster. The giant squid is large and certainly unusual from our human perspective, but if the video shows anything of the animal’s character, it shows an animal surprised by its mistake, backing off after striking at something that at first must have seemed appealing but was obviously not food.”
A team of Japanese researchers recorded the first ever video of a giant squid in its native, deep-water habitat in 2012, nine miles east of Chichi Island in the North Pacific Ocean.