Here, there be monsters.
Scientists on the Research Vessel Point Sur in the Gulf of Mexico got an up-close look at one of the rarest sea creatures that's been the subject of many conspiracy theories and legends - a giant squid in its natural habitat.
The researchers were participating in a two-week mission funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research when they got the footage of the giant squid attacking a special lure, called the electronic jellyfish, they'd attached to a Medusa camera. The team made up of scientists Dr. Edie Widder, Dr. Sönke Johnsen, and Dr. Nathan Robinson, sent the camera with the lure into the depths of the ocean about 100 miles off the coast of Louisiana and Alabama.
The camera was deployed five times, with each mission lasting 24 hours leaving the team with over 120-hours of footage to watch. While there was some interesting footage of deep-sea residents like lantern sharks, and deep-sea jellyfish, wasn't much to see until about 20 hours into the footage, Robinson told CNN.
Footage showed the juvenile giant squid stalking the LED bait positioned near the camera. Then, a tentacle appeared and two of them can be seen making a grab for the blue LED light. Then, as the giant squid realizes the lights aren't food, it pulls back, disappearing back into the inky black depths of the ocean.
"I started to see a tentacle and I got more and more excited and then when the tentacles pulled back there aren't words to describe it," said Robinson.
Widder was eating lunch when Robinson burst into the mess hall to tell her what he'd seen. When she watched the footage, she realized that history had been made and the team had managed to capture footage of the giant squid for the first time in U.S. waters.
"We all proceeded to go slightly nuts," Widder said. "We know so little about how these animals survive in the depths... this helps us learn something more about how they hunt and their energy budget, but we need to know a lot more."
Japanese researchers were able to take the first images of a live giant squid in its natural habitat in 2004 and in 2012, another giant squid was filmed in its natural habitat off the coast of Chichijima.