In the pitch-black water 750 meters below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, a thin, wavy arm emerges from the darkness.
Suddenly he splits, and what was before a lonely, curious appendage now oozes bouquet of tentacles until finally a god-suspected giant squid blossoms out of the darkness and attacks.
And then, as suddenly as it appears, the animal disappears into the depths.
For the first time, a living giant squid had been filmed in US waters. The video was captured by a research team on an expedition funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to study the effects of light deprivation on deep-sea animals living 3280 feet below the surface in the "midnight zone". 1
Edith Aries, one of the leaders of the expedition, described the ordeal as "one of the most amazing days at sea I've ever had".
Aries spoke Sunday from the pier where Point Sur had just docked at sea after two weeks. The founder of the Ocean Research & Conservation Association reported on the dramatic events surrounding the recent discovery.
Scientists used a ram-developed camera system called The Medusa, which uses red light that is undetectable to deep-sea creatures. Discover new species and observe other elusive species. The probe was equipped with a fake jellyfish that mimics the bioluminescence defense mechanism of the invertebrates, which can signal to larger predators that there is a meal nearby to lure the squid and other animals into the camera.
At the end of the two-week expedition, 100 miles southeast of New Orleans, a giant squid pulled in the bait.
When a storm raged across the Gulf last Wednesday, Aries waited for videos of the Medusa to be processed on the ship as her colleague Nathan J. Robinson, director of the Cape Eleuthera Institute, came in.
"His eyes almost jumped out of his head," said Aries. "He did not even say anything and I knew right away that he saw something amazing on the video.
" We all screamed and other people run into the lab and we try not to get upset. In science you have to be careful not to fool yourself, "she said, but it was hard not to be happy about what they saw in the video, it looked like a giant squid, but the storm made it difficult And then, because things were not dramatic enough, the ship was struck by lightning.
Aries heard a loud bang and ran outside to a yellow cloud and brown smoke, debris scattered on the deck, and she and her colleagues immediately feared for the computers with the precious footage.
"We hurried to the lab to make the most amazing video we've ever seen It was okay, that was it, "Widder recalled, and a few hours later she told them that there was a jet of water nearby, a weather formation resembling a tornado.
But in the end it was there s all right Michael Vecchione, zoologist at NOAA National Systematics L Aboratory was able to confirm from a distance that they had actually taken pictures of the elusive giant squid. The researchers estimated the length to be at least 3 to 3.7 meters.
Even without lightning strikes and tornadoes in open water, filming a giant squid in its natural habitat is extremely difficult. That no one had made it until Widder and her and their colleagues on a mission off the coast of Japan used the Medusa to record the very first video of Giant Squid in their home on the high seas.
In 2004, Japanese scientists were able to take the first pictures of a giant squid and collect a portion of tentacles from a living animal. Historically, much of what scientists knew about giant squids came from dead specimens washed ashore or salvaged from the tusks of the sperm whale, Smithsonian Magazine reported.
brought the giant squid a legendary status among marine life.
"It has eight spiraling arms and two cut tentacles," said Aries. "It has the biggest eye of an animal we know has a beak that can rip meat, it has a jet propulsion system that can go back and forth, blue blood and three hearts, it's an amazing, amazing way of life, which we have." knows almost nothing about it. "
Cuttlefish served as the basis for the legendary Kraken, and his reputation as a monster was bolstered by appearances in Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea and in Herman Melville's. Moby Dick, "who perhaps best describes his place in the public imagination:
" We have now considered the most marvelous phenomenon that the secret seas of humanity have revealed so far. Countless long arms floated on the water, curling and spinning like a nest of anacondas, as if they blindly wanted to catch some unfortunate object within reach, no sign of either emotion or instinct; but curled there on the waves, an unearthly, formless, accidental appearance of life.
"(…) Whatever the sperm whale's superstitions have generally associated with the sight of this object, it is certain that a look at it being so unusual that circumstances have gone far It is so seldom seen that, although each of them declares it to be the greatest living thing in the ocean, very few anything but the vague idea of its true nature and form. "
While modern technology has allowed scientists to take a better look at the giant squid than at the doomed souls of the Pequod, the dramatic circumstances of this new discovery feel appropriate. Considering the mythical ancestry of the creature.
Widder and her colleagues, including Robinson and Sönke Johnsen, a biology professor at Duke University, hope that discoveries like these will continue to stimulate public imagination and support for ocean science.
"What were once monsters to be feared are now curious and great creatures that rejoice," wrote Johnsen and Aries on the NOAA's expedition blog. "We want to feel that science and research have brought about this change, making the world less frightening and wondrous with every new thing we learn."