The giant squid, creature of myth and legend, has been captured on film for the first time by Japanese researchers working off the Bonin Islands, about 1,000km south of Tokyo. Decades of expensive expeditions have failed to produce footage of the elusive beast, a favoured snack of sperm whales. Known mostly from dead specimens on seashores, Architeuthis 'chief squid' can grow up to 20 metres in length.
Tsunemi Kubodera and Kyoichi Mori report in the Proceedings of the Royal Society that a giant squid battled with their bait for over four hours, having its photo snapped by suspended cameras every 30 seconds when it was in range. The squid was estimated to be about eight metres long, relatively small fry when it comes to these enormous animals.
It used its tentacles to strike at and coil up around its prey, much like a python. One tentacle became caught up in the attack, and after an epic struggle the tentacle was left behind. When brought up to the surface, the tentacle was still able to grip fingers and equipment with its vicious suckers.
The squid was previously thought to be a passive hunter, but the film disproves this. The researchers report, "The long tentacles are clearly not weak fishing lines dangled below the body. Our images suggest that giant squids are much more active predators than previously suggested."