Video: Researchers Scanning Red Sea's Bottom Stumble Upon 'Giant Squid' Roaming Around Shipwreck
The group of researchers working under the project OceanX, which brings together not only scientists but also activists and filmmakers, were studying the Egyptian ferry Pell, which caught fire while carrying passengers and sank almost ten years ago.
Last year, OceanX set out on a mission to explore the depths of the northern Red Sea, where they studied not only a colossal shipwreck as part of their mission to characterize the seafloor, but also discovered a massive creature that appeared to be larger than a human.
The group aboard the OceanX OceanXplorer research vessel
assumed they had seen what they have described as "The Giant Squid" while exploring the "Pella," which sank in
November 2011 at a depth of over 850 meters.
"I will never forget what happened next for as long as I live," the project's science program lead Mattie Rodrigue said in a video released just this week. "All of a sudden, as we're looking at the bow of the shipwreck, this massive creature comes into view, takes a look at the ROV [remotely operated vehicle] and curls its entire body around the bow of the wreck."
However, according to Rodrigue, the research ship crew did not find out until September this year that the enigmatic monster was "the giant form" of the purpleback flying squid, which can grow up to two feet long.
Michael Vecchione, an NOAA zoologist and squid expert, examined the clip and concluded that, despite its size, the species was not a "giant squid" according to its body dimensions and fin structure.
"In the area that you're operating, in the Red Sea, there's a well-known population of those," Vecchione said during a video call. "They get really big. I think what you're seeing is what's the giant form of Sthenoteuthis. They will approach bait the way that one approached bait and they often swim the way that the other videos showed the animal swimming."
Its fins are small and broad, forming an arrowhead shape, in contrast to the enormous and muscular fins of a giant squid. Giant squids, which are rarely seen
due to their habitat at great depths, can reach a length of 20 meters.