China recently made news with the discovery of a 200-year-old Giant salamander. Now Japan is celebrating a remarkable animal discovery of its own. Despite the fact that famous underwater explorers like Jacques Cousteau are household names, humans have only explored about 5% of the oceans. This means that there are tons of rare creatures just waiting out there to be discovered. Such was the case for the Giant Squid, which was only filmed alive for the first time in 2012. Heck, a photograph of a living giant squid, officially classified as Architeuthis, wasn’t taken until 2004. So for a group of about forty Japanese fishermen and sailors, Christmas Eve, December 24, turned into quite a special occasion.
The 13-foot-long, three-foot-wide cephalopod made its appearance on the west coast of Japan, in Toyama Bay, which is already famous for its association with a different type of squid. Between March and June of each year, people flock to the bay in order to see the Firefly Squid that turn the waters an incandescent neon blue color. This light is generated by the thousands of squid that descend on the location in order to find a mate. While on their own, the bioluminescence of each squid’s tentacles is minor, with the massing of so many in such a small area, the light given off is bright enough to allow for the easy reading of a book by squid-light.
Not many visitors were around for the sighting of the larger squid this week, which meant that divers were able to easily get into the water to photograph the creature. Typically, Giant Squid live for only five years, which means that their growth rate is very quick. This requires they spend most of their time hunting in deep water, away from the eyes of prying humans. Indeed, until 2004, and frequently since then, the only time a Giant Squid was seen was when one was found floating dead. Thankfully the events of December 24 were more positive and the sailors received a nice treat for the holiday, although they would have probably preferred something like KFC, the main Christmas food staple in Japan. Despite this Giant Squid’s massive size, it is far from being the largest ever recorded. A dead Giant Squid was found in 1988 which measured over 43 feet in length. That’s the type of creature that makes you reconsider the veracity of those old fisherman’s tales.