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Captain Nemo would be proud! Mysterious giant squid filmed in U.S. waters for first time

By Jeff Spry
Grant Regan Giant Squid

Captain Nemo, the mad underwater adventurer from Jules Verne's classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, may have grappled with a ravenous giant squid on screen, but these mysterious deep-sea creatures are seldom ever captured on film in real life.

Now, a new video released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and already causing a sensation reveals the undulating tentacles of a rare giant squid in the deep currents of the Gulf of Mexico. Have a look:

This is only the second time this elusive leviathan has been filmed on the entire planet, and the first time ever witnessed in official U.S. waters. So if you're in the Alabama coastal vicinity, maybe think twice about dangling your feet in the water, for fear of being snatched as a late-afternoon snack.

NOAA's murky, unsettling footage was captured during the organization's Journey Into Midnight: Life and Light Below The Twilight Zone mission, using the non-intrusive MEDUSA camera system. Its technology is designed to offer scientists and researchers a peek into the deeper oceanic regions without disturbing the light-sensitive animals that call those bottomless areas home.

20,000 Leagues Poster

The equipment utilizes red light, which is invisible to many deep-dwelling creatures, as well as an eye-catching "lure" patterned to imitate a small bioluminescent jellyfish. MEDUSA's first-time glimpse of a giant squid was snagged on video off the Japanese coast back in 2012.

“In the video, we could clearly see that it was visually tracking the electronic jellyfish, which was very exciting to be able to observe,” explained Edie Widder, MEDUSA developer and Ocean Research & Conservation Association CEO in a statement.

NOAA Giant Squid Crew

This amazing American squid was located at a depth of 2,490 feet and appeared to measure in at between 10-12 feet long. Scientists aboard the research vessel delivered the astonishing footage to NOAA Fisheries zoologist, Michael Vecchione, for immediate expert identification. He quickly confirmed the eerie animal as being a squid of the genus Architeuthis, or GIANT squid! The beast's attraction to the glittery lure allowed for a glimpse into the dimly-lit environment of this shy creature and deduction that it can be categorized as a visual predator.

Giant Squid Composite

“The benchmark is taxonomy, rather than size — it’s either genetically a giant squid or not,” said Vecchione, who plies his trade at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. “People will refer to other things as giant squids, but cephalopod biologists don’t.

“All by itself, it’s interesting. When you compile this plus other observations, that’s when you start seeing patterns, and when you are able to infer the life story for that species.”

What do you think of this remarkable video and does it evoke deep-seated fears of the ocean's more exotic creatures?