New Creature from the Deep

The recent discovery of a new, gigantic squid proves that many more mysteries lurk in our deep oceans.

Just when it seemed that scientists had discovered all the giants of the sea, a squid the length of a moving van emerges from the deep. Researchers from several institutions including the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute captured the previously unknown squid on cameras aboard submersible craft capable of penetrating the ice-cold, bone-crushing depths of the oceans.

The largest individual, measuring close to 7 meters long (23 feet), was one of eight different sightings at depths between 1,940 and 4,735 meters (6,400 and 15,600 feet) in the bathypelagic zone of the ocean, the largest and least explored habitat on Earth. The animals are different from any other squid, particularly because their eight arms and two tentacles are roughly equal in length and thickness.

There are about 280 known species of squid. Voracious predators of fish, shrimp, and other squid, these mollusks are a major prey item for many whales, seals, seabirds, and large fish. Some predators, such as sperm whales, dive down more than a mile in the open ocean for squid meals. The new squid were found in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans, suggesting that they are common worldwide at such depths.

ROV Tiburon as it hits the ocean.
Photo: David French © 1997 MBARI


Close-up view of an unknown species of squid encountered by ROV Tiburon at 3,380 meters depth off the coast of Oahu. This animal was estimated to be four to five meters in length.
Photo: © 2001 MBARI
Close-up view of an unknown species of squid encountered by ROV Tiburon at 3,380 meters depth off the coast of Oahu. This animal was estimated to be four to five meters in length.
Photo: © 2001 MBARI