10 | DIC | 2019
Giant squid spotted in the Gulf of Mexico
Not much is known about giant squids - Photo: Michael Aw/EFE

Giant squid spotted in the Gulf of Mexico

01/07/2019
11:30
Newsroom/EL UNIVERSAL in English
Mexico City
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This is the second time a giant squid has been captured on camera in its deepwater habitat

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Nathan Robinson, a scientist from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, saw that first glimpse of a tentacle rise out of the inky black of his computer screen and was captivated.

“You feel very alive,” he said of the footage, which showed a giant squid in its natural habitat for the second time in history. “There’s something instinctual about these animals that captures the imagination of everyone, the wonder that there are these huge animals out there on our planet that we know so little about, and that we’ve only caught on camera a couple of times.”

The squid was captured by the Journey into Midnight expedition at a depth of 759 meters and looked to between 10 and 12 feet long.

The new footage was captured by the MEDUSA, a camera system that’s designed to give scientists a glimpse into the deep ocean without disturbing the light-sensitive creatures that live there. It uses red light, which many deep-dwelling creatures cannot see, as well as a lure modeled off of a bioluminescent jellyfish. The MEDUSA first captured a giant squid on video in 2012 off the coast of Japan.

The two videos can teach scientists a lot about the giant squid. They were both captured at 2,490 feet below the surface, which means the squid lives in a world that’s very dimly lit. They show that giant squids are active creatures: they don’t float around and passively wait for food to drift by. They also have huge eyes, the largest eyes of any animal on the planet, and they’re visual predators.

“In the video, we could clearly see that it was visually tracking the electronic jellyfish, which was very exciting to be able to observe,” said Edie Widder, chief executive officer of the Ocean Research & Conservation Association and the developer of the MEDUSA technology.

All of this information can be used in future studies about the animal.

Giant squids aren’t uncommon creatures. They wash ashore fairly regularly off the coast of northern Spain because the noise involved in oil exploration there can be lethal to them. But viewing one in its natural habitat is rare, and is a testament to the contributions ocean exploration is making to the public understanding of the ocean.

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