August 8, 2022

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It's not a sci-fi kraken but it looks like it

It’s not a sci-fi kraken but it looks like it

Many legends and works of science fiction tell of the adventures of sailors whose ships were seized by octopuses and giant squid. One of the most famous stories concerns one of these tentacled creatures known in Norway as legendary sea monster (quirky animal), a name that has recently been applied to several species of large cephalopods.

Historical illustration of a science fiction story about a giant cephalopod attack.


Specimens like the one in the photo above are pure fantasy, but there are giant squids and giant octopuses, although they are not able to swallow ships.

Several species of these large marine invertebrates are known to live in different parts of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Despite the fact that scientific data and observations in their natural environment are extremely rare (most sightings were through accidental captures).

Known in Asturias as “peludín”

The most famous species found in our waters is the giant Atlantic squid (Doge Architothis), which is known on the coast of Asturias as “peludín”.

Reproduction of a specimen of a giant squid 17 meters long in the Museum of Toulouse (France).

Reproduction of a specimen of a giant squid 17 meters long in the Museum of Toulouse (France).


Various scientific teams have tried to improve knowledge about these inhabitants of the sea floor and on some recent occasions have obtained pictures of live samples.

The most effective way to achieve this is with the robot’s underwater cameras, operating automatically or remotely, in areas where booby traps or prey have been placed.

One of the best videos of this kind was made by the international team led by Nathan J. Robinson of the Cape Eleuthera Institute in the Bahamas. This team has worked with a fixed undersea platform for more than 10 years in the Gulf of Mexico, near the Bahamas.

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The first results of their research, with data and images of various species of giant cephalopods at depths between 557 and 950 meters, were published in June 2021 in Deep Sea Research Part One: Oceanography Research Papers.

Video of the giant squid in action: It's not

Video of a giant squid in action: It’s not a science fiction ‘kraken’ but it looks like it

One of the most common and common data is that, using scientific methods, it was calculated that the arms of the giant squid depicted (these are cephalopods with eight arms and tentacles) are about 1.68 meters long.

Nathan Robinson’s team has come up with their own solution to attract squid so that it can be photographed (with sufficient lighting). Because the eyes of giant squids were optimized to see blue light of shorter wavelength, they used red light of longer wavelength that would not bother them in order to see the animals on video.

Finally, they added a bait: a fake jellyfish, a gelatinous mass with lights that mimic the intermittent blue bioluminescence emitted by the Atula jellyfish. Although giant squids are not known to specifically eat jellyfish, they may be attracted to the distress lights of this endangered species (which is why imitation is used as a decoy).

Giant squid video details.

Giant squid video details.


In 2019, they filmed the first issue of Architeuthis Doji.

The hunting behavior of this giant squid was the most remarkable of all that was observed. The authors note that the animal followed the platform (where the lure was) for about six minutes before attacking, indicating that it was stalking its prey before moving on to kill.

This observed behavior contradicts the assumption that the giant squid is an ambush predator, as previously mentioned in several articles. Instead, the animal appears to be an active hunter using visual cues to find food.

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