A Discovery Channel clip of the elusive predator 2,000 feet (610m) deep in the Pacific Ocean has been described as the ‘holy grail’. Mankind has hunted the beast for centuries, and this breakthrough could lead to many more.
“It’s amazing footage and will encourage others to follow up,” Jonathan Ablett, curator of mollusks at London’s Natural History Museum, told Metro. “We have virtually no deep water exploration below 200 meters and the more we investigate the squid, the better we will understand the deep-sea ecosystem.”
The mission was completed with a Triton submersible designed for observation, and the company is fielding increased requests from scientists and enthusiasts.
“We hope it’s a game changer,” spokesman Marc Deppe said. “Our goal is to modernize marine science.” In addition to tourism, Triton is extensively filming the depths for a reality TV show, and Deppe is confident the giant squid will star.
Certainly the animal – also known as the ‘Kraken’ based on legends of destroying ships – has a ready-made following. The Octopus News Magazine Online (TONMO) is a ‘ceph-head’ collective of 10,000 squid and octopus enthusiasts, and organizer Tony Morelli said the Discovery footage was “the most significant moment in our 13 year history.” The group will hold a special celebration, complete with ‘Kraken’ rum, when the full programme airs on January 27.
Yet the prospect of capturing a live squid for a zoo or aquarium remains elusive.
“I would not call it impossible but you would need serious funding,” Dr. Clyde Roper, giant squid expert who worked with the Discovery team, told Metro. Should that money be available, Roper adds that “the space and food the squid needs would be a problem.”
There is a small market for giant squid meat, but Metro understands that high ammonia levels make it an unappetizing dish.
Giant squid facts
- Size: 3-18 meters
- Habitat: All of the world’s oceans, typically at depths of between 300-1000 meters
- Diet: Carnivore – eats fish and smaller squid, known to fight whales and sharks
- Cost: Dead specimens sell for $10,000 – a live squid would cost millions
- Legend: Inspired the ‘Kraken’ of popular fiction, including ‘Moby Dick’
- Most creative use: Peruvian traffickers were arrested in 2004 for attempting to smuggle kilograms of cocaine in a giant squid.