FIU Scientist Spots First Giant Squid In U.S. Waters

A giant squid is seen on live video for the first time in the United States. Jordon Coll/PantherNOW

Jordan Coll/Staff Writer

For most, giant squids are the creation of science fiction movies and books, but for one FIU professor they are her area of study.

Evolutionary marine biologist and FIU professor, Heather Bracken-Grissom, along with a team of 12 scientists explored an area in the Gulf of Mexico known as the “Midnight Zone.” The team went looking for marine life that could survive without the presence of light.

They expected to see smaller marine life like crabs and clams, but instead found a juvenile squid about 12 feet long. 


“It was extremely exciting to witness firsthand a live video of the giant squid at the Gulf of Mexico,” said Professor Heather Bracken-Grissom. This was only the second time a giant squid had been caught on camera and the first time one has been seen in the United States.

A Medusa camera was used to capture the video. It is able to capture underwater images in complete darkness.

An LED light around the rim of the lens replicates bioluminescent jellyfish, which attract any nearby squid. Bioluminescence is the production of light emitted from a living organism. 

As the Medusa picked up the white image of a long tentacle approaching, the team of scientists were astonished with what they were watching on live camera.

“What is not seen in the video is minutes before the giant squid sighting, the squid continuously approached the Medusa system and seemed to be contemplating an attack.” she said. 

On June 19 the Journey into Midnight research mission led by Sönke Johnsen from Duke University and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began. The mission lasted six days and what they discovered is leading to a new way of understanding how giant squids behave. 

Scientists were able to gather the first live footage of a giant squid, commonly referred to as Architeuthis Dux

“These creatures are quite intelligent and remarkable,” she said. 

In watching this video scientists were able to understand how these creatures respond to stimuli in their natural environment. 

“Not a lot is known about how these organisms behave due to the difficulties and expense that comes with deep sea exploration. We hope we are given more opportunities to explore these amazing habitats in future missions.” she mentioned. 

Bracken-Grissom along with members of the Crustaceans Genomics and Systemics lab study the evolution of marine organisms and, specifically the evolution of vision and bioluminescence in the deep sea. 

“In being a part of this voyage it reminded me how much of the deep sea is left to still be discovered,” she said.


Be the first to comment on "FIU Scientist Spots First Giant Squid In U.S. Waters"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.