Has anyone ever really seen a live giant squid?
And if nobody has ever seen one, how do we know they exist?
Nobody had ever seen a live giant squid until September 30, 2004, when scientists from two research institutions--the National Science Museum of Japan and the Ogasawara Whale Watching Expedition--snapped over 500 pictures of one for the first time. But we knew giant squid existed long before then.
Giant squid are usually around 30-45 feet long, and their single eye is over a foot in diameter. They need those big eyes to detect the small amount of light available in the ocean's depths, where they live. Giant squid typically live about 1,000-2,000 feet below the surface of most of the world's oceans, although they're rare in tropical locations. They're elusive because they live at such great depths; only recently have scientists been able to travel deep enough to see one in its natural habitat. Contrary to popular myths about giant squid grabbing boats off the surface of the water and dragging them under, giant squid never venture to the surface in real life--the water is too warm and the pressure is too light for them to survive. Although they're big, they're delicate and they've never been successfully kept in captivity.
Scientists have known of their existence because the bodies of dead giant squid have washed up on shore, appeared in commercial fishing nets, and been found in the stomachs of sperm whales. Sperm whales are giant squids' natural predators, but the giant squid aren't easy prey; sperm whales have been found with giant scars all over their bodies from the squids' enormous suckers.
If you're interested in learning more about giant squid, here's a link to the Smithsonian Institute's online exhibit about them:
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