A team of filmmakers and scientists have filmed a full-grown, 18-meter giant squid swimming in its deep-ocean habitat for the first time.
Japanese pubcaster NHK, its production affiliate NHK Enterprises and U.S. cable network Discovery Channel spotted the squid at a depth of 630 meters about 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo during an expedition that was the culmination of a 10-year project to film the creature in its natural environment.
The footage will air on NHK on January 13 during the program Legends of the Deep: Giant Squid. Discovery Channel’s broadcast will follow on January 27 under the title Giant Squid: The Monster is Real.
Producers used an ultra-sensitive, high-definition camera developed to operate at great depths with a light that has a specific wavelength invisible to the sensitive eye of the giant squid. The camera was placed on board a clear-domed submersible that made around 100 dives totaling 400 hours last summer.
The crew followed the three-meter-long squid, which was missing its characteristic two longest tentacles, for about 900 meters. The giant squid is among the largest invertebrates on Earth and has proved notoriously difficult to capture on film. When fully extended to the tips of its tentacles, it can grow to 18 meters in length.
The two broadcasters were joined by a crew of scientists, including zoologist Dr. Tsunemi Kubodera from the National Museum of Nature and Science, oceanographer and marine biologist Dr. Edith Widder, and marine biologist Dr. Steve O’Shea.
“We are thrilled to be able to bring TV viewers the first‐ever video images of a live giant squid,” said NHK Enterprises executive producer Hiromichi Iwasaki in a statement. “It is the result of more than a decade of hard work accumulating details about this creature from research institutes and the local fishermen. It really is a thrilling payoff of the patient work, and we are happy to be able to share it with the world.”
“When Discovery does natural history it sets the bar high, and this ground-breaking project features the very first-ever footage of a live giant squid in its natural habitat. Our crew came face-to-face with the giant squid, and it’s the ideal season finale for our ‘Curiosity’ series,” added Eileen O’Neill, group president of Discovery and TLC Networks.