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A Giant Squid Visits a Japanese Harbor

These denizens of the deep usually lurk between 2,000 to 3,000 feet below the surface

(Science Photo Library/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

Giant squid, the huge tentacled creatures that live in the dark ocean depths, were probably the inspiration for the legend the kraken and have remaind largely elusive for most of human history. The first images of a live giant squid were captured in 2004 and another became the first to swim into view on film in 2013. Even so, most specimens spotted have died, tangled in fishing nets. Last week, a giant squid made gentle mockery of decades of efforts to spot them when it swam into a harbor northwest of Tokyo.

A fisherman noticed the 12-foot-long giant squid swimming beneath fishing boats at the Mizuhashi Fisherina in Toyama prefecture, reports Jun Hongo for The Wall Street Journal. “Whereas the ones caught in fishing nets are mostly dead and their colors have already turned white, the body of the giant squid swimming inside the marina was red,” says Tatsuya Wakasugi, the marina’s manager. 

The squid visited long enough for  a diver to arrive and accompany the tentacled beast as it swam. The diver, Akinobu Kimura, filmed the encounter before ushering the squid back out toward the open ocean, reports Euan McKirdy and Junko Ogura for CNN

See Japan’s ANN News footage:

Another camera person captured the diver and the squid interacting from the surface:

“My curiosity was way bigger than fear, so I jumped into the water and [got] close to it,” Kimora tells CNN. The diver said that after a few hours in Toyama Bay, the squid disappeared back into the depths beyond the harbor’s entrance.

The lost squid may have been a juvenile—adults of its species can reach up to 40 feet in length—and that may be one reason behind its wandering.

But researchers know little about the enigmatic creatures. The first genetic analysis of giant squid revealed little genetic diversity, even in individuals from locations as far apart as Florida and Japan.

Though scientsts didn't learn much more from this latest sighting, it further stokes people’s curiosity about the life and habits of giant squid.

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