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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

speak of the devil! giant squid caught on camera!

Just a day after my post regarding the giant squid's strange sex life, we learn that some Japanese researches have indeed caught the giant squid on camera!
The pictures, taken a year ago but only due to be published later today, have come from Tsunemi Kubodera, of Tokoyo's National Science Museum, and Kyoichi Mori, of the Ogasawara Whale Watching Association.

Writing in the latest edition of the British scientific journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, the pair reveal how they used sperm whales as a guide.

Whale watchers on the Ogasawara Islands, in the North Pacific, had long noted the migratory patterns of sperm whales, in particular how they gathered near a canyoned continental shelf.

By attaching depth loggers to the whales, they found the creatures made enormous dives of up to 1000m, the depths where the giant squid were believed to lurk.

They then set up a special rig, comprising a camera, stroboscope light, timer, depth sensor, data logger and a depth-activated switch attached to two mesh bags filled with bait.

Suspended from floats, the rig was lowered into the water on a nylon line, with flash pictures taken every 30 seconds for the next four to five hours.

At 900m, an 8m squid lunged at the bait bag, succeeding only in getting itself impaled on the hook.

For the next four hours, the squid tried to get free as the camera snapped away, gaining not only unprecedented pictures but also precious information about how the squid is able to propel itself.
Read the whole article here, which goes on to say that a severed tentacle was brought to the surface, suckers still actively sticking to the boat deck and fingers which touched them! Question: when do we get to see the pictures!? I'll post them here as soon as I can find them.

Update: here's another article with some additional information.

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