Lots of people have been emailing me with the news about this filmed sequence showing a giant squid snagged on a deep line. Did you know that the paper is freely available online (pdf)? It’s very cool. The researchers were jigging for squid with a 1km long line, snagged one by a tentacle, and then watched for the next four hours as it struggled to get free.
The squid’s initial
attack was captured on camera (figure 3a) and shows the
two long tentacles characteristic of giant squid wrapped in
a ball around the bait. The giant squid became snagged
on the squid jig by the club of one of these long tentacles.
More than 550 digital images were taken over the
subsequent 4 h which record the squid’s repeated
attempts to detach from the jig. For the first 20 min,
the squid disappeared from view as it actively swam away
from the camera system. For the next 80 min, the squid
repeatedly approached the line, spreading its arms widely
(e.g. figure 3b) or enveloping the line. During this period
the entire camera system was drawn upwards by the squid
from 900 m to a depth of 600 m (figure 3g). Over the
subsequent 3 h, the squid and system slowly returned to
the planned deployment depth of 1000 m. For the last
hour, the line was out of the camera frame, suggesting
that the squid was attempting to break free by swimming
(finning and/or jetting) away from the system. Four hours
and 13 min after becoming snagged, the attached tentacle
broke, as seen by sudden slackness in the line (figure 3c
versus d ). The severed tentacle remained attached to the
line and was retrieved with the camera system (figure 3e).
The recovered section of tentacle was still functioning,
with the large suckers of the tentacle club repeatedly
gripping the boat deck and any offered fingers (figure 3f ).
I’ve put the figure they describe below the fold. It’s a thing of beauty: an 8meter (26 foot) beast attacking the bait. Remind me not to go swimming below 500m, OK?
Kubodera T, Mori K (2005) First-ever observations of a live giant
squid in the wild. Proc. R. Soc. B doi:10.1098/rspb.2005.3158.