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First Photos of a Giant Squid in the Wild

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First Photos of a Giant Squid in the Wild

Science

First Photos of a Giant Squid in the Wild

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

One of the most mysterious creatures of the deep is now a little less mysterious.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Today newspapers featured a picture of a giant squid. This is the first time photos of a living giant squid have been published. Up until now, all we've seen are their dead bodies after they've washed up on beaches or were snagged by fishing boats.

BLOCK: And, of course, we've imagined giant squid teeming in the deep.

(Soundbite of radio play)

Unidentified Actress: Ten or 12 more squid now invaded the platform and sides of the nautilus. We rode pell-mell into the midst of this nest of serpents. It wriggled on the platform in the waves of blood and ink.

NORRIS: That's an excerpt from a radio play based on the Jules Verne book "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea."

BLOCK: Today's pictures were taken about a fifth of a league under the sea; that's about 3,000 feet. Japanese scientists tracked their quarry with the help of sperm whales, which eat the giant squid. The researchers figured, `If the whales were following the squid, we'll just follow the whales.' They did and then sent down some mashed shrimp to entice the giant squid a little closer to their robotic cameras.

NORRIS: The pictures they took may tell us more about this very mysterious creature.

Mr. EMORY KRISTOF (Photographer, National Geographic): There's a lot of very large things that are down there in deep water that we never see, and I think the giant squid is the poster sea monster for what we don't know about the deep ocean.

NORRIS: That's Emory Kristof, a photographer for National Geographic. He's tried to get his own pictures of the giant squid a few times. He says giant squid are truly enormous, up to 80 feet long. And according to some reports, their eyes can be as big as volleyballs. But the squid in these new pictures is only about 26 feet long.

Mr. KRISTOF: This would be a small one. It's--you'd really like to see one about 80 feet or so. I mean, you know, kind of tackling some--you know, kind of tackling something. We don't really have, you know, much of an idea of what it is they eat that's--what the population is. Do they move around? Are they seasonal? Like, do they all go to Miami for the winter?

NORRIS: Should the squid have a name?

Mr. KRISTOF: I would think right now, since the Japanese caught it, it's going to have to have some sort of a sushi-type name to it. We've always looked at this thing as, really, kind of jumbo calamari, so it's--if you want to look at it that way. This is the calamari to end all calamari.

NORRIS: Emory Kristof, a photographer for National Geographic, talking to us about the photos of giant squid published today in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society.

BLOCK: And to see some of those pictures for yourself, go to our Web site, npr.org.

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