Coming to a TV screen near you: footage of the famed elusive giant squid, thanks to the efforts of the owner of the megayacht Alucia as well as Triton Submarines.
The Discovery Channel and two Japanese firms are funding the special expedition. Triton Submarines is overseeing the dive operations with its Triton 3300/3 sub (seen on the aft deck of Alucia in the photo below) as well as two others, fitted with infrared and low-light cameras. The giant squid, which can be 25 feet (8 meters) long, live at depths upwards of 3,000 feet, where daylight doesn’t penetrate. In addition, the creature is sensitive to light, so normal filming equipment isn’t suitable. All of the submarines further have suction sampling equipment and CTD sensors, which measure the conductivity, temperature, and depth of water.
As for Alucia, you may recall from our previous articles about the 185-footer that she was commissioned by underwater documentary filmmakers. Alucia was originally a French-built submarine tender, purchased and refitted in Seattle from 2008 to 2009 for their private trips with scientists. While Alucia sold to a new owner last year, the megayacht is still outfitted for scientific expeditions, with onboard labs for analyzing samples.
For the squid expedition, Alucia is receiving operational support from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the largest independent such research foundation in the United States. Filming and diving are taking place now along the Japanese coast, also to capture footage of other denizens of the deep.
Bruce Jones, CEO of Triton Submarines, isn’t exaggerating when he describes this as a “groundbreaking project.” Japanese researchers first captured images of giant squid in 2004, with video footage following two years later. Prior to this, most information about giant squid had been gleaned from dead and dying creatures that had either washed ashore or were caught by commercial fishermen. Even with those images, there is still a lot that scientists wish to learn.
UPDATE, JANUARY 21, 2013: Scientists successfully discovered and filmed a giant squid while using the Triton sub last year. TV viewers in the United States can see some of this footage on Sunday, January 27 on the Discovery Channel, during the show “Monster Squid: The Giant Is Real.” The program is part of the Curiosity series and airs at 8 pm Eastern and Pacific times.