FIRST-EVER PHOTOS OF LIVE GIANT SQUID: While Major Media Snooze, Scientists Find Calamari Bonanza at 500 Fathoms, in Waters off Japan

by Richard Poe
Saturday, October 1, 2005

4:26 pm Eastern Time

Last Wednesday, while major media tried their best to focus our attention on the alleged shortcomings of ex-FEMA head Michael Brown, one of the greatest scientific discoveries in human history was virtually ignored. Japanese scientists announced that they had managed to photograph a full-grown giant squid, swimming alive in the wild, for the first time ever, according to the Associated Press.

Until now, scientists have seen only occasional dead or dying specimens of the monstrous cephalopod, when they wash ashore or turn up in fishing nets from time to time.

In its deep-sea habitat, Architeuthis Dux is believed to reach up to 60 feet in length, making it the largest invertebrate on earth.

See slideshows here and here.

Dr. Tsunemi Kubodera of Tokyo’s National Science Museum spent three years searching the waters off Japan for the elusive creature, dangling baited lines equipped with remote cameras deep into the pitch-dark regions where Architeuthis makes its lair.  Then, at 9:15 am on the morning of September 20, 2004, Kubodera got his quarry.

At a depth of about 500 fathoms, or 3,000 feet, off the island of Chichijima, about 600 miles southeast of Tokyo, a 25-foot Architeuthis siezed the bait and got caught on Kubodera’s line.  The beast struggled to get free for over four hours while a camera equipped with a strobe light shot photos every 30 seconds.

The monster finally broke loose, leaving behind a tentacle nearly 20 feet long which the researchers hauled aboard their vessel.  The tentacle, still alive when Kubodera grabbed it, began sucking on his hands.

Seafood connoisseurs will be enthused to learn that the tentacle is the largest cut of fresh calamari ever drawn from the sea.

Kubodera waited a year before reporting his historic feat. His account, which he co-wrote with Kyoichi Mori of the Ogasawara Whale-Watching Association, appeared this Wednesday, September 28, in the British journal, the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

“That’s getting footage of a real sea monster,” said deep-sea biologist Randy Kochevar of the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. “Nobody has been able to observe a large giant squid where it lives. There are people who said it would never be done. It’s really an incredible accomplishment.”

by Richard Poe
October 1, 2005 04:26 PM ET

Cross-posted from 10.01.05


20 Responses to “FIRST-EVER PHOTOS OF LIVE GIANT SQUID: While Major Media Snooze, Scientists Find Calamari Bonanza at 500 Fathoms, in Waters off Japan”


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  1. kyle says:

    Japanese scientists eh? I wonder how long before that thing is served on a sushi bar? That’s not racist. It’s only an example of cultural imperialism.

  2. Richard Poe says:

    kyle writes: “I wonder how long before that thing is served on a sushi bar?”

    Personally, I love calamari. In fact, posting this story made me hungry… especially this picture. Fresh and juicy!

  3. Sharikov says:

    Amazing! And swimming at 3000 feet. That’s 100 times the pressure we experience up here on land – so the giant squid must be one strong animal to live/withstand those pressures (we humans start succumbing to pressure squeeze only at around 100 feet).

  4. perfesser33 says:

    It is a great discovery. We knew they were there (somewhere) because they washed up occasionally. Sperm whales (like Moby Dick) were said to like them more than Italians like calamari. I read a book over 40 years ago titled “Sharp Ears” that talked about how sperm whale hunted them by dropping their jaws as “bait.” But, how deep and how they live were mysteries — it’s always nice to solve a scientific mystery.

  5. Rightminded says:

    Turnabout is fair play. Perhaps the giant squid can learn from its encounter with its newest enemies!

    I can see it now; pizzas with all the various toppings laying on the coast lines with these grappling devices hidden under the cheese!

    Headlines read: The authorities are baffled by the rash of missing pizza lovers!

    Animal rights squids asking, “Do you think they feel those hooks?” — Naww! And even if they do, they’re pretty much dead past the 100-foot mark. You would think they would have enough sense to rip their hand off!

  6. Rocco DiPippo says:

    They say that cephalopods are intelligent creatures. Maybe the Dems can lure one into replacing Howard Dean as DNC chairman.

  7. nanc says:

    mr. poe – octopus much, much better than calimari in my book. this is quite a discovery. the Creator is wondy.

  8. halpern says:

    The apnea diving record is probably still 525 feet.

    With tanks, a record of 1010 feet was reached in 2002.

  9. Richard Poe says:

    nanc writes: “mr. poe – octopus much, much better than calimari in my book.”

    Yes, without a doubt, octopus is tastier than squid, especially when served Greek-style, grilled and covered with olive oil.

    The Spaniards make an interesting dish of boiled octopus in tomato sauce. It’s good that way too, but they cook the octopus too long and it loses something of its rich, chewy, meaty flavor.

    If I were going to eat that Architeuthis tentacle, I’d do it up Greek-style, grilled till the sucker-edges are slightly charred and crunchy, and bathed in olive oil and chopped garlic.

  10. Richard Poe says:

    Rightminded notes: “Turnabout is fair play. Perhaps the giant squid can learn from its encounter with its newest enemies!”

    All calamari jokes aside, I must give a nod to Rightminded’s observation that man’s first intrusion into the giant squid’s world had an unfortunate aspect to it.

    Trying to snag the beast with grappling hooks does not strike me as the most enlightened approach we might have taken to this particular, ahem, study. Then again, maybe it’s the only approach that would have worked.

    I’m glad we got the photos. But I do feel sorry for the poor brute!

  11. nanc says:

    mr. poe – one small can of pickling spice and two teabags of your choice in a cheesecloth bag in a stockpot of simmering water – add octopus leg and simmer (low heat) for approximately one hour – remove and drain – slice skin and pull off – do not forget to attach tentacles all over yours and your guests’ faces – voila – one long white piece of octopi – slice approximately 1/2-3/4 inch thick on serving tray. side dishes of garlic butter, wasabi, teriyaki & green onions, whatever your heart desires – a feast fit for royalty. don’t forget to remove tentacles from your face before bed!

  12. donew54 says:

    Having spent a summer working for NOAA as an observer on a fishing trawler which brought up several large squid, I can assure everyone on this board unless you like the taste of ammonia you will not be eating one of these monsters.

  13. Richard Poe says:

    donew54 writes: “…unless you like the taste of ammonia you will not be eating one of these monsters.”

    Ammonia? Why ammonia?

  14. nanc says:

    mr. poe, i’ve heard the same thing somewhere in time – my husband used to commercial fish off the coast of oregon in his younger days; i’ll ask him. although he is of the mind that anything is edible if prepared the right way.

    thank G-d we don’t do this:,,2-2005450017,00.html

    the french are truly sick. careful, i had to hold something up over my monitor just to get that address. is there nothing they won’t do for shark meat?

  15. donew54 says:

    Richard Poe asked about ammonia. These large squid, the ones I personally saw, were dead and larger than the one shown preserved behind the researcher in the photos. They had a very strong odor of ammonia, I believe it had something to do with their bouyancy system. As someone above mentioned some sharks have a similar smell to their flesh.

    They came up in bottom trawls along the panhandle of Alaska.

  16. J. Bargholz says:

    It looked more like a big squid than a giant squid. Fishermen pull up squids that size on a regular basis.

  17. Richard Poe says:

    Mr. Bargholz writes: “Fishermen pull up squids that size on a regular basis.”

    Twenty-five-footers? I’m not aware of any sort of squid that grows that large, except Architeuthis Dux.

    But let’s ask donew54. He seems to be the expert on this subject.

  18. TexasTom says:

    What a great story! I don’t really care much for Calamari, but I care a great deal about bizarre sea monsters!

    This made my day.

  19. J. Bargholz says:

    Mr. Poe,

    You got me. I didn’t process the 25 foot measurement for some reason.

    I was WRONG!

    This is a neat discovery. I look forward to a 60, 70 or 100 foot confirmation. I’ve been waiting for this kind of story since I was a boy. “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” was one of my favorite movies and books.

    I’ve always thought Verne was one of France’s greatest thinkers, unlike the ones that enjoy prominence.

  20. » Blog Archive » First-Ever Photos of Live Giant Squid says:

    […] Cross-posted from 10.01.05 […]

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