Monster of the deep: Giant squid captured on film for the first time
Michael McCarthy, formerly the Independent’s longstanding Environment Editor, now its Environment Columnist, is one of Britain’s leading writers on the environment and the natural world. He has won a string of awards for his work, including Environment Journalist of the Year (three times) and Specialist Writer of the Year in the British Press Awards in 2001. In 2007 he was awarded the Medal of the RSPB for “Outstanding Services to Conservation,” in 2010 he was awarded the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London, and in 2011 the Dilys Breeze Medal of the British Trust for Ornithology. In 2009 McCarthy published Say Goodbye To The Cuckoo (John Murray), a study of Britain’s declining migrant birds.
Tuesday 08 January 2013
Here it is, the monster of the depths, the sea-creature of nightmares, filmed for the first time in its natural habitat: the giant squid.
This is the beast which has long wound its fearsome, 30ft-long tentacles around our imagination: it was thought to be the origin of the mythical Kraken which dragged down ships to their doom, it was the brute which attacked the submarine Nautilus in Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and the fiend which James Bond had to fight in Dr No.
Now a team of Japanese scientists have captured what they claim are the first live images of the real animal in its natural surroundings, 2000ft beneath the waves in the Pacific near the Ogasawara islands, 600 miles south of Tokyo.
It’s a small one. Only ten feet long. But the sight of its silvery form looming out of the blackness of the deep ocean, even in these stills, is enough to bring us up short.
“Many people have tried to capture an image of a giant squid alive in its natural habitat, whether researchers or film crews. But they all failed,” said Tsunemi Kubodera, a zoologist at Japan’s National Museum of Nature and Science, who led the team.
“I’ve seen a lot of giant squid specimens in my time, but mainly those hauled out of the ocean. This was the first time for me to see with my own eyes a giant squid swimming. It was stunning, I couldn’t have dreamt that it would be so beautiful. It was such a wonderful creature.”
The full film, taken last July for the Japanese national broadcaster NHK and the Discovery Channel, will be publicly aired later this month.
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