The Kraken lives! 1st ever video of a live giant squid captured

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Jan 22, 2013, 5:53 PM EST

It's a real-life sea monster, the mythical Kraken of old, and until now most of us had only ever seen it dead. But a Japanese team has finally captured the first-ever video of the legendary giant squid swimming in its natural habitat, and today they've released some magnificent still photos of the creature.

The footage was captured last July near the Ogasawara islands south of Tokyo, by a team that partnered the Japanese National Museum of Nature and Science, Japanese broadcaster NHK and the Discovery Channel. Using a special light that's invisible to both humans and squids, the team was able to bring back footage unlike anything we've seen before, and as you can see from the image above, the results are spectacular.

"Many people have tried to capture an image of a giant squid alive in its natural habitat, whether researchers or film crews. But they all failed," said Tsunemi Kubodera, a zoologist at the National Museum of Nature and Science, who led the team. "These are the first-ever images of a real live giant squid."

To get the footage, Kubodera made about 100 dives in a small submersible, riding down with only a pilot and a cameraman. The team repeatedly descended to depths of around 2,000 feet, where they would release a three-foot long-squid as bait and wait for the giant specimens to show up. When they finally saw one, they followed it to depths of nearly 3,000 feet, filming all the while.

So why were Kubodera and company able to succeed where others failed? The trick was not to be afraid of the dark.

"If you try and approach making a load of noise, using a bright white light, then the squid won't come anywhere near you. That was our basic thinking," Kubodera said. "So we sat there in the pitch black, using a near-infrared light invisible even to the human eye, waiting for the giant squid to approach."

The creature is small by giant squid standards, only about 32 feet long compared to the largest specimens, which have ranged up to nearly 60 feet, but it is the first one the public has ever been able to see swimming, and even Kubodera was mesmerized.

"I've seen a lot of giant squid specimens in my time, but mainly those hauled out of the ocean. This was the first time for me to see with my own eyes a giant squid swimming," he said. "It was stunning, I couldn't have dreamt that it would be so beautiful. It was such a wonderful creature."

The video footage of the squid hasn't been released yet, but the photos alone are enough to drop your jaw. Take a closer look below.

(Via New York Daily News)