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The Giant Squid: Onscreen At Last

The giant squid, recorded for the first time in its natural habitat. We’re looking at the myth and intimate reality of a deep sea marvel.

In this television image made from video recorded in the summer of 2012 provided by NHK and Discovery Channel, a giant squid swims in the deep sea off Chichi island, Japan. (AP/NHK/Discovery Channel)

In this television image made from video recorded in the summer of 2012 provided by NHK and Discovery Channel, a giant squid swims in the deep sea off Chichi island, Japan. (AP/NHK/Discovery Channel)

When it comes to sea monsters and ocean lore, the giant squid ranks right up there. Vast, tentacled, lightening quick, overpowering. Those giant, staring eyes. That great and merciless beak. Those huge suckers.

We’ve seen it in the movies – “20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea,” “Pirates of the Caribbean.” We’ve found them washed up on the beach. We’ve glimpsed them in still photos. But the first video of the giant squid, in its native habitat, right up on the camera – that’s new.

We’ve got the woman who grabbed it – 3,000 feet down – with us this hour. This hour, On Point: all about the giant squid.

-Tom Ashbrook


Richard Ellis, author of “The Search For The Giant Squid: The Biology and Mythology of the World’s Most Elusive Sea Creature.” Research associate at the American Museum of Natural History.

Edie Widder, president and senior scientist at the Ocean Research and Conservation Association. She helped shoot the new footage and designed the luminescent lure which attracted the giant squid.

From Tom’s Reading List

Los Angeles Times “For centuries the giant squid has been the stuff of legend, but now, for the first time ever, scientists have collected footage of a giant squid, (Architeuthis), in its natural habitat, thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface. ”

U.S. News and World Report “The giant squid may have been the inspiration for the mythical Kraken, but there exists an even larger tentacled beast in the ocean: the colossal squid, which can reach weights of more than 1,000 pounds. Though the colossal squid is shorter from end to end than the giant squid, its mantle is longer and much heavier.”

CNN “The first ever video footage of a giant squid swimming in the ocean depths is ‘an enormous breakthrough,’ according to a prominent marine conservationist who wrote a book about the quest to find the mysterious creatures.”

Giant Squid Footage (courtesy of the Discovery Channel)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/gary.morris.7399 Gary Morris

    In that last frame the quote that comes to mind is “Here’s looking at you kid.”  That’s a big mamma jamma!

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      I bet you can’t say “squid”, quickly, twenty times without giggling.

  • 1Brett1

    Is that Medusa pre-Proteus?

  • Jasoturner

    Incredible.  As we scurry around trying to make our way through the world, it’s easy to forget how many wonderful mysteries are still out there for those who look.  Great, great stuff.

    • http://onpoint.wbur.org/about-on-point/sam-gale-rosen Sam Gale Rosen


  • Gregg Smith

    Mmmm, Calamari! 

    • J__o__h__n

      It might just be giant pig bung. 

      • Gregg Smith

        I heard that story somewhere.

    • Acnestes

      My understanding is that they wouldn’t be very appetizing.  a lot of ammonia in their tissues.

    • Anne Bemis


      • Gregg Smith

        Sorry, just joking.

  • stillin

    I can’t wait to paint it I love that squid so much.

  • DeJay79

    So it’s a really thing. what does this mean for Big Foot or Lockness?


    • ChrisKam

      The difference being we haven’t seen a lot of bigfeet or lockness washing up on shore…

    • ChrisKam

      The difference being we haven’t seen a lot of bigfeet or lockness washing up on shore…

  • stillin

    please don’t ask the people what they used for bait, or where exactly they saw this beauty…or they will be endangering it and I love it so much I don’t want it harmed.

    • sickofthechit

       I wonder what effect lights (if any) used to film these creatures actually have on their eyes?  anyone know?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=52002129 Christopher R. Seeley

    Great show!  Are there any modern documented reports of attacks on humans or vessels by either the giant or colossal squid?

  • http://www.facebook.com/lars.grantwest Lars Grant-West

    I remember my parents bringing my brother and me to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City when I was a young child. One of the dioramas that most captivated me was a life-sized one of a giant squid grappling with the head of a sperm whale as it struggled desperately to avoid being eaten. It was a diorama so dark you had to lean up against the glass to see it – and you could see the giant eye of the squid as it’s dusty eye stared back, just a short distance away.

    It sparked a love for creatures of the deep which has lasted my entire life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bradley.scarbrough Bradley Scarbrough

    Cool show! Thanks Tom.

  • stillin

    Just listening to the awe in the voices on the tape, when they first saw the beauty, was perfect…no video needed, just the soundtrack of the human reaction in voice, to this wonder full phenomenea.

  • ToyYoda

    What new knowledge will be discover from these videos?

  • Mark Zagaeski

    There has been an idea floated in the marine mammal research community that sperm whales might use high intensity sound pulses to stun their prey, including possibly squid. As a grad student back in the 90′s, I was one of the few researchers to actually make some measurements about this idea, and found fish could be hurt but sounds just about in the range of possible energies for sperm whales.

    My question: have there been any more findings either supporting or disproving this theory?

  • Frank Forkl

    Cephalopods like the giant squid are the most intelligent invertebrates on the planet. To finally observe such a fantastic, smart creature is phenomenal. 

    Growing up a nerd, these “smart but spineless” creatures always fascinated me :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/lars.grantwest Lars Grant-West

    So if squid and other cephalopods use their skin coloring/chromatophores as a means of communication, is the red color of washed up squid the state where those color cells are all relaxed?

  • OnpointListener

    I ran into what appeared to be a squid “family” while snorkeling along a reef in Anquilla.

    We became still and stared at each other for about 2 minutes, before one of the parents inked me and the group swam away.

    How does the giant squid compare to smaller squids in terms of their “social structure”?

  • burroak

    Amazingly beautiful, it makes one ponder what awaits discovery at great ocean depths.

  • Anne Bemis

    wow…..79 year oldie amazed anew….thanks a heap.

  • Anne Bemis

    wow….79 year oldie amazed anew….thanks

  • Bradley Lignoski

    …one little problem: This is not actually the first video of a giant squid. Research teams caught video of giant squid in Nov and Dec of 2006. There was another video taken in 2002.

    …just read the wikipedia article on giant squid…could the article have been vandalized? It does look like the history channel aired an episode on giant squid and aired footage of one, but I could not find the footage of the squid.

    So why are they saying this is the first video? Maybe some technicality about “natural habitat”? Maybe this happened at greater depth than the other videos?

  • wrybread

    With respect, On Point got pwned by whatever the money was behind Discovery Channel’s three-ring production of this scientific yawn. We wasted an hour watching Yellow Toys on Parade before gasping to realize they would stretch this marathon of hype to two hours. What a disservice to legitimate investigation of nature, what a dent in the credibility of your usually conscientious radio show.

    Very disappointed — quite a dent in your credibility as far as I’m concerned.

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