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Enter the Kraken

January 10, 2013

Eva Gusnowski

If my eyes were the size of dinner plates, I’d either look like a crazy anime doll, or just plain crazy. The giant squid has eyes this size, but it looks pretty frightening just due to its shear size. And a beak? Please, that’s just asking to be made into a horror movie. Until now, however, the world has never observed a giant squid in its natural habitat deep within the ocean (not counting the digitized versions that have laid siege to countless submarines and boats).

The giant squid, Architeuthis dux, exhibits abyssal (or deep-sea) gigantism, meaning that the deep-sea variation of the squid grows to a much bigger level than its shallow-water counterpart. This particular squid has been known to grow up to 13 meters in length from head to tentacle. And yes, they can have eyes that grow to the size of dinner plates. But the only reason this is known is from squids that have been captured and killed. An important part of biology is not just looking at the anatomy and physiology of an organism, but to look at how it acts in its natural habitat and not in captivity. Not much was known about their behaviors in the ocean and what they actually did with their time: Do they twiddle their tentacles? Do they eat green eggs and ham? Do they like them Sam I Am?

 



New footage taken approximately 900 meters below the surface of the Pacific Ocean south of Tokyo has finally documented this beast at peace in the ocean. Using a silent submarine and a 1-meter long squid as bait, a team of scientists lured an 8 meter (or about 26 feet) squid towards the sub after many (100!) failed attempts to do so. To prevent scaring off the squid they used an light that was invisible to the squid and even themselves.  The team followed this creature down into the depths of the ocean and filmed it feeding on the bait squid. Although it may just look like a majestic video to some, this is the first step to understanding how the squid functions in the ocean.

 



First step: giant squid. Next step: the Kraken

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