Giant Squids: Characteristics, Size, Stories, Videos

Home | Category: Cephalopods (Octopus and Squid)


first photos of a living giant squid,
caught off a Japanese island
Giant squids (Scientific name: Architeuthis dux) are one of the world's largest and most mysterious animals. Although until recently no one had ever caught one alive, they have given rise to legends of sea monsters, like the kraken of Norway, stories of sailors being pulled into the sea, ships being overturned, and elementary school maps with fierce sperm whale and giant squid battles. [Source: David Grann, The New Yorker, May 24, 2004]

The largest of all invertebrates, the giant squid reportedly can reach 60 feet (18 meters) in length (twice the length of a bus) and weigh up to half a ton. Found at great depths below the surface, they have eight short tentacles like other squids as well as a 1½-foot-wide mouth, two long tentacles with sucker-covered clubs at the end, They have the largest eye of any animal that has ever lived.

Much about giant squids is unknown.No one is sure how long giant squids live and nobody knows for sure what depths they live at although depths of around 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) are a good guess. It is not known how aggressive they are; whether they hunt alone or in packs. Some scientists believe they feed by simply unfurling their arms and gathering in prey that passes their way. The giant squid’s scientific name, "Architeuthis” , means “ruling squid.”

The number of giant squids not known. Their age and growth rate can be determined examining calcium deposits in the squid’s statolith, a bonelike particle in the squid’s ear. They have no special status on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List and the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Websites and Resources: Animal Diversity Web (ADW); National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); Fishbase ; Encyclopedia of Life ; Smithsonian Oceans Portal

Differences Between Giant Squids and Colossal Squids

Giant squids and colossal squids are the largest squids and the largest invertebrates but are different species. Giant squids belong to the genus Architeuthidae while colossal squids belong to the genus Mesonychoteuthis. [Source: AZ Animals]

Giant squids live around the world, in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans while colossal squids live in very cold waters near Antarctica and the Southern Ocean exclusively. Giant squids live in deep waters, often more than 500 meters (1600 feet deep) in temperate seas, but rarely tropical or polar waters, Colossal squids are found only in polar seas, often at depths of more than 1000 meters 3300 feet deep.

Giant squids are 12 to 15 meters (40 to 50 feet) in length and weigh up to 300 kilograms (660 pounds). Colossal squids are 9 to 12 5 meters (30-40 feet) in length and weigh up to 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds). Giant squids have eight arms, two long tentacles with suckers and teeth; huge eyes and long narrow body. Colossal squids also have eight arms but have shorter tentacles with hooks used to catch prey. They also have a body that is shorter, stouter and wider than that of a giant squid

Where Giant Squid Are Found

Giant squid are found in all the oceans of the world, usually in cooler waters in association with continental and island slopes. Specimens have turned up in North Atlantic Ocean off Newfoundland, Norway, northern Britain, and the oceanic islands the Azores and Madeira. Elsewhere they have been in southern African waters In the South Atlantic; near Japan the the North Pacific; and around New Zealand and Australia in the southwestern Pacific and the Southern Ocean. Specimens are rare from tropical and high polar latitudes. [Source: Jerrod Vaughan, Animal Diversity Web (ADW) /=\ ]

image made in 1875
No one is really sure exactly where giant squid live because less than a handful have been seen alive in their natural habitat. Relatively recent research has indicated that perhaps they live in deep sea waters between 200 and 1000 meters (660 and 3,300 feet) in depth, possibly near the ocean bottom. However, some specimens have been captured in nets in mid-water. /=\

Research by Dr. Ole Brix, of the University of Bergen suggests that the blood of squids does not carry oxygen very well at higher temperatures and that giant squids might suffocate in warm water. Warm water may cause a giant squid to rise to the surface and not be able to get back down. /=\

Giant squid are most commonly found around New Zealand and Japan, as well as the North Atlantic and waters around Africa. In recent years giant squids have been caught dead in nets off Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. New Zealand and the Azores are hot spots for sperm whales and giant squids. An area off the coast of New Zealand is reportedly the best place in the world to find giant squids. Fishermen there periodically pull them up while fishing for deep-sea fish at depths of about a mile. The squids are believed to be feeding on the dense schools of fish at that depth and these in turn on feed on creatures nourished by plankton produced by the merging of currents from the tropics with those from Antarctica.

Giant Squid Size

Giant squids are the largest known cephalopods, the largest known mollusks and probably the largest invertebrates ever known to exist in the oceans. Giant squids have been recorded as long as 18.3 meters (60 feet) in total length, including tentacles. Most of the specimens that have been found in 11.6-13.7 meters (35-45 foot) range and many have only been six to nine meters (20 to 30 feet) in length. The total length includes the body, the head, the arms, and the two long feeding tentacles. Giant squids posses two tentacles that may reach 10 to 12 meters (33 to 39 feet) in length. These feeding tentacles are much longer than the rest of the body. [Source: Jerrod Vaughan, Animal Diversity Web (ADW) /=]

There is some debate whether many giant squid specimens are giant squids or colossal squids (See Below). Giant squids and colossal squids have the largest eyes out of any animal in the world. At up to 40 centimeters (15¾ inches), they can be as big as a human's head. Most deep-sea animals have very large eyes so they can gather the small amounts of light that are available in the deep depths of the ocean. Giant squids may be might even be able to see bioluminescent light. /=\

About 200 giant squid specimens have been found, most of them pieces that had washed ashore. In the past decade or so about 30 specimens have been hauled up in deep water fishing nets. The first specimen to receive public attention was a jaw taken from a specimen retrieved off the coast of Iceland in 1854 that gave proof that the creature was not just a myth.

20120518-800px-Giant_squid_west_coast.png A number of reports of exceptionally large beasts have surfaced over the years, One specimen with a 21½ foot-long body and one tentacle measuring 35 feet long floated into Trinity Bay Newfoundland in 1878. A 57-foot specimen, including a 49 foot tentacle, washed up on Lyall Bay, Cook Strait, New Zealand in 1888. In 1958, a 47-foot-long one was found. There was also a report of a 21-meter-long specimen found off New Zealand with eyes that were 40 centimeters across, the largest eye in the animal kingdom.

Adult giant squid are thought to weigh between 45 and 180 kilograms (100 and 400 pounds) with exceptionally large ones exceeding 450 kilograms (1,000 pounds). They possess two clubbed tentacles that can extend for up to nine meters (30 feet). Reports of 18 meter (60 foot) long giant squids appear to have been achieved by simply pulling and stretching elastic dead squid so a 40 foot one is stretched out to 60 feet. Females are typically larger than males. They can weigh as much as 275 kilograms (606 pounds) while males may only reach 150 kilograms (330 pounds).

Stories About Giant Squids

Giant squids may have been the source of “dragon that is in the sea” in Tales of Gilgamish, from ancient Mesopotamia, and the Scylla in Homer’s Odyssey. The Roman encyclopedia described a gigantic “polyp” that was “smeared with brine and had a terrible smell.”

Norwegians coined the term Kraken (a slang term meaning a tree with roots still attached) to describe giant tentacled creatures A description in the 18th century “ Natural History of Norway” described one as being as large as a “floating island” with ship length-horns and arms capable of grabbing “hold of the largest man-of-war” and “pulling it down to the bottom.”

In “ 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” Jules Verne describes a giant squid “a terrible monster worthy of all legends about such creatures” and depicts a battle between 25-foot-long creature and a submarine. The story was inspired by reports of a giant squid caught in 1861 off the Canary Islands (See Below). More recently one was the villain in a 1991 Peter Benchley novel “ The Beast”.

Describing one in Moby Dick, Herman Melville wrote: “A vast, pulpy mass, furlongs in length and breadth, of a glancing cream color...innumerable long arms radiating from its center, and curling and twisting like a nest of anacondas.”

Giant Squid Characteristics

20120518-Giant_squid1.jpg Giant squids have many of the same features as regular squids but bigger: widely spaced eyes, a parrot-like mouth, a raspy, serrated tongue and torpedo-shaped head. Each of its eight tentacles is covered with hundreds of suckers, ringed with sharp teeth. Their skin is iridescent and filled with chromataphores. Near the back of its head is a funnel that shoots out black ink.

According to Animal Diversity Web. Their tentacles have many suckers on the tips, called clubs. The tentacular clubs are narrow and have suckers, which are sub-spherical cups lined with sharp, finely serrated rings of chitin, in four longitudinal rows. These suckers cover only the inner surface of the arms and tentacles. These tentacular clubs are divided into distinct carpus, manus and dactylus. The manus has enlarged suckers along medial two rows. The suckers on the tentacles, and the arms, are not known to be any bigger than about five to five and a half centimeters. The carpal region has a dense cluster of suckers, in six to seven irregular, transverse rows. [Source: Jerrod Vaughan, Animal Diversity Web (ADW) /=\ ]

Giant squids also have fins that are proportionally small, ovoid, and without free anterior lobes. The fins at the rear of the mantle, are used to help the squid move by gentle, rhythmic pulses of water pushed out of the mantle cavity throughout the funnel. They also have eight arms with suckers in two longitudinal rows. At the end of the arms they have a parrot-like beaks at the base. Another characteristic of the squid is that they have buccal connectives that attach to the dorsal borders of arms. Giant squid contain the dark, sepia-colored ink that we associate with the smaller, more familiar squid. /=\

The nervous system of squids is very extensive and their brains are complex brain. They have the two, very large gills resting inside the mantle cavity. The squid are able to breath and move quickly by expanding the mantle cavity by contracting sets of muscles within the mantle. The water fills the expanded space, the muscles relax, and the elastic mantle then snaps back to a smaller size, jetting water out through the funnel. The jet of water closes the flaps on either side of the squid's head so water can exit only through the funnel. /=\

Giant Squid Food and Eating Behavior

Studies of the digestive system of dead giant squids have shown that they eat deep-sea fishes, such as orange ruffie, and hokie. They also eat other types of deep-sea squids, but not giant squids. Scientist have hypothesized that giant squids may be solitary hunters based on the fact that no two giant squids have ever been together caught in fishing nets. [Source: Jerrod Vaughan, Animal Diversity Web (ADW) /=\ ]

According to Animal Diversity Web; Giant squids capture their prey by using their two long feeding tentacles. The tentacles are shot out to grip the prey. The suckers on the tips of tentacles grab hold of the prey and the tentacles contract, bringing the prey to the arms. The arms then further subdue the prey, pulling it to the strong, sharp beaks. The beaks are operated by a massive set of muscles that allow them to bite through just about anything the squid might capture. But the giant squid's bite-sized pieces of food need further shredding before being digested. The tongue is equipped with an organ known as the radula, which is loaded with rows of small, file-like teeth. The radula further shreds the meal before the tongue pushes it down the esophagus to the digestive organs. /=\

Giant squid are thought to rise in the water column at night to feed. A video — the subject of a paper published in Deep Sea Research Part 1: Oceanographic Research Papers in May 2021 — shows several large squids, including a giant squid, employing their hunting techniques at bait platforms set up by scientists. BGR reported: Researchers used fake jellyfish with built-in lights that give them the appearance of a bioluminescent jellyfish. The video footage show multiple squids attacking the bait. Some of the squids remain unidentified and could be new species but at least one of the attacks came from a giant squid. [Source: Mike Wehner, BGR, May 14, 2021]

Giant Squid Sex and Reproduction

Alecton giant squid, 1861
Male giant squids have a penis that is a meter and a half (five feet) long and sex may include homosexuality, group sex and cannibalism. The penis is tipped with a cartilage-like plug used to cut the female’s arms and deposit batches of sperm. In response the female my bite off some of the male’s body parts. Females are thought to release as many as 4 million eggs. They are usually released during summer nights by females who migrate to shallow waters. Baby giant squids are cricket-size creatures called paralarva, They often come into shallow coastal water to feed.

Most of what is known about the the reproduction of giant squids comes from examinations of dead giant squids and from observations of other squid. According to Animal Diversity Web: Females produce enormous quantities of whitish to cream-colored eggs, about .5-1.4 millimeters long and .3-.7 millimeters wide, depending on the stage of their maturity. One female had over five kilograms (11 pounds) of eggs in her ovary, well in excess of a million eggs. As in most deep sea squids, females have a single median ovary in the posterior end of the mantle cavity, paired, convoluted oviducts along with mature eggs pass, then exit through the oviducal glands, and large nidamental glands (female reproductive organs found in most squid). that produce quantities of gelatinous material. Whether the eggs are laid into a large gelatinous matrix, as in most of the large oceanic squids or are released individually, is unknown, although the large nidamental glands suggest the former method.[Source: Jerrod Vaughan, Animal Diversity Web (ADW) /=\ ]

Males tend to reach sexual maturity at a smaller size than do females. The two ventral arms are reported to be modified into transfering the spermatophores to the female. As in most other cephalopods, the single, posterior testis produces sperm that move into a complex system of glands that manufacture the spermatophores. These are stored in the elongate sac, or Needham's sac from which they are expelled during mating. The Needham's sac of fully mature males is packed with hundreds of spermatophores. Needham's sac terminates in the penis. The penis is so elongate that it extends anteriorly beyond the mantle opening. While mating has not been observed and the exact role of the penis is uncertain, some females have been found with spermatangia, the sperm-containing sacs of the spermatophore, embedded in the tissue around the bases of the arms and the head. /=\

Cephalopods are known to be very fast growing animals. Some species of small, shallow water forms reach sexual maturity in 6-8 months, and most species about which growth, age and maturity data are available reach reproductive capacity within 12-18 months. Many of the specimens of Giant squids that have been recovered have been mature, especially the females. But the age at maturity of Giant squids is not known with certainty. One study suggests that adult size is attained within three years. Even at the rapid growth rate expected in cephalopods, the attainment of a mass of 500 kilograms or more in fewer than three years is impressive. /=\

While diving off Queensland, Australia, in 2018, Jay Wink, owner and operator of ABC Scuba Diving Port Douglas, captured this image of what seems to be strings of large squid eggs held together by a gelatinous material that believed to have been released by a giant squid.

Giant Squids and Sperm Whales

20120518-Giant_squid_Ranheim.jpg Adult giant squids have few predators. The best known — and maybe the only — ones are sperm whales. Sperm whales grow to 40-50 feet in length,but they weigh 30-40 tons. Even though a giant squid might match this whale in length it is clearly nowhere near as big in terms of mass. In encounters between sperm whales and giant squids, most of the time the sperm whale wins. This is evident in the number of giant squid found in the stomach of the sperm whale. Juvenile and baby giant squids face many predators, mostly deep sea fishes and other squids. [Source: Jerrod Vaughan, Animal Diversity Web (ADW)]

Much of what scientists know about giant squids comes from giant squid remains found in the stomachs of sperm whales. A study estimated that sperm whales feed upon up to 131 million giant squids each year, Newsweek reported. According to some estimates a 50-ton sperm whale may eat up to three or four giant squids a day (the stomachs of some dissected sperm whales contains handfuls of giant squid beaks). Whalers that hunted sperm whales until the 1980s reported harpooned sperm whales vomiting up giant squids with tentacles as thick as a man's thigh.

Giant squids are relatively slow, which makes them easy prey for sperm whales, but they are believed to put a some degree of fight. Sperm whales almost always have scars from the squid's sharp toothed suckers around their mouths. Some of the sucker scars are 13 centimeters across. Beaks larger than those of the largest specimens have been found in sperm whale stomachs.

Studying Giant Squids

Most giant squids found these days are snagged by fishermen towing nets at great depths. Sometimes dead or dying ones wash ashore. In the past fishermen, at best, took a picture or two and then threw the carcass overboard. Specimens that reached scientist were often hacked to pieces. To get good specimens, scientists in New Zealand have made arrangements with fishermen to freeze any large squid immediately after it is caught.

20120518-giant Squid_mantle_width.jpgScientists who have sampled giant squid say that it has an ammonia taste, which suggests to them that a giant squid can stay afloat without swimming and most likely has a less powerful propulsion system for its size than smaller squids.

Efforts to video giant squids by attaching critter cams to sperm whales have been unsuccessful. So have expeditions using deep sea robots.

Steve O’shea, a New Zealand marine biologist, is obsessed with the idea of catching a baby giant and placing it in a tank and feeding it until it becomes a mature adult. He has been able to catch them using a contraption made of fine-mesh netting, plywood, funnels and coke bottles but has not been able to keep them alive for long. The first time he caught baby giant squids, in 2001, he later discovered that the tanks rectangular shape caused them to sink and the plastic compounds used to make the tanks were poisonous to the squids. With cylindrical, acrylic tanks he has been able to keep the baby giant squid alive for 80 days. [Source: The New Yorker]

Encounters with Giant Squids

In November 1861, the crew on a French steamship named the Akecton encountered a "colossal slimy embryo" near the Canary Islands and tried to catch it and kill it. Reports from crew members said that hurled harpoons seem to bounce off it and bullets fired from muskets had little affect. The crew managed to get a rope around the beast. The rope dug into its flesh. After it broke away all that remained was a piece of the tail. The tail and a detailed report was given to the French Academy of Sciences. Skeptics said the rotting tail was part of a plant.

In 1873, a fishermen working off the coast of Newfoundland saw an alive giant squid floating in the water. He said it reached out and tried to grab him. In response he grabbed an axe and managed to cut off one the creature’s arm. It was 19 feet long. He brought it back to shore and it was placed in a museum in St. John’s Newfoundland — the first unequivocal proof that giant squids do exist.

In 1980, Bruce Robinson, a scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, was trawling for new creatures at a depth of 2000 feet in the Monterrey Canyon off of California. When he brought the trawling devise to the surface and he realized that a giant squid was inside. The squid managed to escape but left behind a 12-foot-long piece of tentacle. He told The New Yorker “the suckers were still gasping — when it was brought on board. He later dissected the tentacle and determined it belonged to a very strong swimmer. He also took a bite from the rubbery flesh. “How could I not?” He told The New Yorker. “It was bitter.”

In July 2002, two early morning joggers discovered a 250 kilogram, 15-meter-long giant squid washed up on Seven Mile Beach, 10 miles east of Hobart, Tasmania. Around the same a number of other giant squids were found, including 14 juveniles caught in fishing nets off New Zealand.

In January 2003, a crew of Frenchmen on an ocean-going yacht was sailing across the Atlantic when it hit something that stopped them cold. One crew member later told The New Yorker, he looked own on the rudder and saw “a tentacle” that was “larger than a human leg...and starting to move...I had never seen anything like it. There were two giant tentacles right beneath us, lashing at the rudder.” As it unhooked itself from the boat, I could see its tentacles. The whole animal must have been nearly thirty feet long.”


First Videos of Living Giant Squids

The first recording of a living giant squid was made in 2006, by Japanese researchers in waters off Japan’s Ogasawara Islands. They managed to hook a specimen using bait and reel it to the surface where it was videoed. The first giant squid to be filmed in its natural habitat was filmed in 2012 by a remote operated vehicles (ROV) named the Medusa. It was was deployed in Japanese waters near where the 2006 encounter took place. Medusa’s camera system was able to operate in the darkness of the deep sea. This was an an important innovation over previous submersibles and ROVs, which usually relied on bright white light to navigate through the blackness of the deep sea. It is believed that such light scared away many creatures used to living in total darkness. [Source: Smithsonian]

In December 2006, Tsunemi Kubodera, a scientist at the National Science Museum of Japan, caught a giant squid at depth of 650 meters about 27 kilometers off the northeast coast of Ototojima island in the Ogasawara Islands. The squid was not fully grown. It measured 3.5 meters despite having its two longest tentacles severed. It is estimated that if the tentacles were intact the squid would have measured seven meters in length.

In September 2005, the British magazine Nature reported that first video of a giant squid. The image of an eight-meter squid were taken as it tried to snag some bait at the end of fishing line at a depth of 900 meters on the North Pacific near Chichijima Island, 100 kilometers south of Tokyo, by a team led by Kubodera. The squid got snagged on a hook and wriggled free after a four-hour struggle but not before losing a tentacle that was retrieved by the scientists. The scientists were also impressed by the way the squid seemed to aggressively pursue its prey rather than waiting for it to pass its way.

Giant Squids in Tokyo Bay and Giant Squid Sashimi

Giant squids periodically appear along Japan’s coast. One was sighted in March 2022. In March 2014, a giant squid weighing 24 kilograms (53 pounds) and 3.6 meters (11.8 feet) in length was caught in Tokyo Bay. Miura’s Keikyu Aburatsubo Marine Park Aquarium examined the giant squid after a local fisherman spotted it floating off Yokosuka, Kanagawa prefecture. It was captured alive by the fisherman but died several hours later. This is not the first time a giant squids captured in Tokyo Bay. In May 1968, a 6-meter giant squid had been found in Tokyo Bay off Miura in Kanagawa. [Source: Japan Daily Press, April 2, 2014]

In February 2015, a giant-squid tasting event was held in Imizu, Toyama Prefecture. One of the squid, which was 6.3 meters long and weighed 130 kilograms when it was landed in a fishing port in the city, is among the largest in the world ever captured. In the drying process, it shrank to 3.6 meters and six kilograms. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, February 22, 2015]

After the giant squid was brought ashore in Tottori in January 2014, The Daily Mirror reported: “Local residents were said to be working out just how many people the 220 lbs (100 kilos) squid could feed if cut into sashimi until they were told it contained too much ammonia in its body to be edible. The ammonia helps it stay buoyant.[Source: John Kelly, Daily Mirror, January 23, 2014]

Bunch of Giant Squids Caught Off Japan in January 2014

In January 2014, a giant squid caught by fishermen off coast of Tottori Prefecture in Japan. International Business Times reported: “Measuring 11 feet in length, the creature was hauled in from deep waters during a trawl for crabs and flatfish. “It was alive when the fishermen brought it on board the boat but died before reaching the coast. The squid’s length was drastically shortened by the absence of its two longest tentacles, which would have made its length around 8 meters (26 feet) had they been attached. [Source: Dominic Gover,, January 23, 2014]

Local expert Toshifumi Wada said it was significant the squid had been caught at a depth of around 244 meters 800 feet. The creatures usually live at depths of no less than 305 meters (1,000 feet). Wada told NTV: "This shows that the squid was swimming at that depth, so I think this is significant." AP reported there are plans for the squid to be preserved for research purposes.

Also in January 2014, a fisherman in the Niigata Prefecture caught another giant squid and filmed its capture. Fisherman Shigenori Goto expressed regret afterwards about not treating the 360-pound lb creature with more respect. Another washed ashore near Kashiwazaki city and another two were caught in fishing nets. A giant squid was taken to the Himi fishing port in Toyama Prefecture on January 4, and another was discovered in a net off Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture on January 8 , according to The Japan Times. “Three squid were taken to Sado and Himi that measured between three and four meters long, the newspaper has reported. The two longest tentacles of one of the creatures caught in the town of Iwami in Tottori Prefechure were missing, meaning it could have spanned eight meters prior to its capture. [Source: Heather Saul, The Independent, February 20, 2014]

The Independent reported: “An increase in the number of giant squid being caught along the Sea of Japan coast is leading puzzled fishermen to fear their presence may be some kind of 'omen' - although experts think the invertebrate are simply a bit cold. Several of the creatures have been ensnared in fishing nets. A local fisherman who caught a four-meter giant squid off the coast of Sadogashima Island said, “"When I hauled up the net, the squid slowly came floating up," Shigenori Goto told local media at the time. "This is the first time I've seen such a large squid." He told The Japan Times yesterday: “I had seen no giant squid before in my 15-year fishing career. I wonder whether it may be some kind of omen.”

“Squid usually live 600 meters below the water’s surface where temperatures are 6 to 10 degrees, according to Tsunemi Kubodera,the collection director at the National Museum of Nature and Science. Squid can survive 200 meters below sea level as temperatures are around 7C in January. However, they fell to about 4 degrees in 2014. Mr Kubodera speculated that the giant squid have been rising closer to the surface looking for warmer water, but find themselves being swept closer to the shore and into the fisherman’s nets.

Giant Squids Observed by Divers off the Coast of Japan

In January 2023, a video of a giant squid swimming off the coast of Japan was posted on Viral Press. Fox News reported: Yosuke Tanaka, 41, encountered the 8-foot-long squid while diving with his wife Miki, 34, off the western coast of Japan. The couple, who operate a diving business in Toyooka city, found out about the squid from a fishing equipment vendor who spotted it in a bay, Japan Times reported. Tanaka and Miki took a boat out in search of the creature, staying near the shoreline as they scoured the bay. "I could see its tentacles moving. I thought it would be dangerous to be grabbed hard by them and taken off somewhere," Tanaka told the Times. "We didn’t see the kinds of agile movements that many fish and marine creatures normally show," he added. "Its tentacles and fins were moving very slowly." [Source: Peter Aitken, Fox News, January 20, 2023]

A researcher at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo told NHK news that the squid was likely around 1 or 2 years old, based on its size. The footage shows the giant squid floating near the surface, its tentacles drifting behind it while the couple swim nearby. The squid seems either unaware or undisturbed by their presence. The sheer size of the animal struck Tanaka, and he said he couldn’t help thinking about stories of squids fighting with whales. He assured that the experience would remain with him, saying it was "very exciting" and "there is nothing rarer than this."

In February 2014, a giant squid was captured alive — a rare event — in the Sea of Japan off Shinonsen, Hyogo Prefecture, but died shortly after being landed. The Yomiuri Shimbun reported: “The squid measured 4.13 meters in length, but would have been eight to nine meters in length if its two longer tentacles had not been severed. It weighed between 150 and 200 kilograms. Fisherman Tetsuo Okamoto, 63, first caught sight of the squid as he was diving for turban shells about five kilometers from the town’s Moroyose fishing port at about 10:30am. The giant squid swam over his head when he was about eight meters below the surface. Okamoto managed to snare it with a rope, which he tied to his boat. He then transported the squid back to the port, but about 10 people were needed to haul it ashore. "I didn't think I'd ever get to see a giant squid swimming in the sea," he said. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, February 27, 2014]

First Video of Giant Squid in U.S. Waters

In June 2019, researchers in the Gulf of Mexico filmed a giant squid in U.S. waters for the first time — in the deep sea as part of an expedition to document whales. USA Today reported: The video, which lasts less than 30 seconds and was taken about 100 miles (163 kilometers) southeast of New Orleans, shows what appears at first to be a single tentacle appear from the darkness. Then, the tentacle stunningly expands and is revealed to be the lower half of the deep-sea creature. The squid flows about in the water before slowly pushing back and returning to the darkness. [Source: Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY, June 25, 2019]

The researchers say it's the first time a giant squid has been spotted in U.S. waters, and Edie Widder, one of the leaders of the group, told the Washington Post it was "one of the more amazing days at sea I’ve ever had." The research team was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and set out to observe marine creatures in the so-called "midnight zone," some 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) below the ocean surface.

“Using special cameras, the team sought to better understand how the lack of light at such great depths affected animals and their vision. The Medusa, a camera that employs red lights invisible to most creatures at those depths, was used to lure the animals with its attached "e-jelly" display, which mimics the bioluminescence of a deep-sea jelly fish.

Researchers were reviewing Medusa's footage when they caught the first glimpse of the squid's long tentacles. "People quickly gathered around. We knew immediately that it was a squid. It was also big, but because it was coming straight at the camera, it was impossible to tell exactly how big," the team wrote in their mission log. The animal turned out to be 10 to 12 feet long, and the scientists soon made the preliminary identification of the juvenile giant squid.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons except 1) Japan-animals blogspot

Text Sources: Animal Diversity Web (ADW); National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); Wikipedia, National Geographic, Live Science, BBC, Smithsonian, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, Reuters, Associated Press, Lonely Planet Guides and various books and other publications.

Last Updated April 2023

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