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Scientists snap monstrous squid

North Pacific Leviathan caught on camera

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Japanese scientists have pulled off a major coup by getting the first snaps of a live giant squid - 900 metres beneath the surface of the North Pacific. The elusive monster Architeuthis - which measures up to 18 metres - was previously known only by examples washed up on beaches or captured in fishing nets, Reuters reports.

Tsunemi Kubodera, of the National Science Museum, and Kyoichi Mori of the Ogasawara Whale Watching Association tracked their prey by following sperm whales as they congregated to feed off the North Pacific's Ogasawara Islands between Spetember and December. Sperm whales apparently have a taste for giant squid, and duly led the two scientists to the Leviathan.

Giant squid ahoy!

The resulting pics - showing the Architeuthis attacking bait - were captured by a "long-line camera and depth logging system". The most significant feature of the attack squid revealed by the images is "the pair of extremely long tentacles, distinct from the eight shorter arms", as the squid hunters put it in the Proceedings B journal of the Royal Society. "The long tentacles make up to two-thirds of the length of the dead specimens to date," they confirmed, adding that Architeuthis used these "elongated feeding tentacles" to entangle their prey.

Kubodera and Mori also suggest that the giant squid is "much more active predator" than previously thought, so perhaps those tales told by old Tars of tall ships being dragged down to Davy Jones' locker by multi-limbed sea monsters are not so fanciful after all. ®

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