December 22, 2006—Like pulling a shadow from the darkness,
researchers in Japan have captured and filmed a live giant
squidlikely for the first timeshedding new light on the
famously elusive creatures.
Tsunemi Kubodera, a scientist with Japan's National Science Museum, caught the 24-foot (7-meter) animal earlier this month near the island of Chichijima, some 600 miles (960 kilometers) southeast of Tokyo (see Japan map).
His team snared the animal using a line baited with small squid and shot video of the russet-colored giant as it was hauled to the surface.
The squid, a young female, "put up quite a fight" as the team attempted to bring it aboard, Kudobera told the Associated Press, and the animal died from injuries sustained during the capture.
Giant squid, the world's largest invertebrates, are thought to reach sizes up to 60 feet (18 meters), but because they live at such great ocean depths they have never been studied in the wild.
Kubodera has spent three years searching for the creatures, and his team scored a coup in 2004 when it used a remote underwater camera to take the first-ever photographs of a live giant squid.
(See a gallery of the first photos taken of a live giant squid.)
The capture may be a sign that giant squid are more plentiful than had been thought, Kubodera said, and the event could help open up more fruitful research into the poorly understood animal.
"Now that we know where to find them, we think we can be more successful at studying them in the future," he said.
—Blake de Pastino
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