For the first time, a living giant squid has been caught on video in US waters. The video, which Science Alert calls "haunting," shows the squid emerging from the darkness, 2,500 feet below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico, and then vanishing back into it after attacking a fake jellyfish researchers were using to lure creatures to the camera. The footage was captured last week by a 23-person team of researchers on a NOAA-funded expedition to study the impacts of light deprivation on deep sea creatures in the "midnight zone," 3,280 feet below the surface. The scientists, who were about 100 miles southeast of New Orleans at the time, were using a specialized camera system, called the Medusa, which uses red light—undetectable to deep sea creatures—in an effort to observe more elusive creatures.
In a blog at NOAA, Edie Widder, who developed the Medusa, describes the team's excitement when researcher Nathan Robinson discovered the footage of the giant squid—and their fear when lightning struck their ship just 30 minutes later. The footage survived, a zoologist confirmed that it was in fact a giant squid on the video, and the team cheered. "We found the squid after only five Medusa deployments, despite the fact that thousands of ROV and submersible dives in the Gulf of Mexico have not done so," Widder writes. "This suggests that the animal does not like the bright lights of ROVs and that stealth monitoring of the sort possible with the Medusa can allow us to see what has never been seen before." (It was a Medusa that captured the first-ever video footage of an elusive giant squid, in 2012 off the coast of Japan.)