With only around a dozen confirmed sightings worldwide, the capturing of an adult bigfin squid on camera during NOAA’s Windows to the Deep 2021 expedition off the West Florida Escarpment in the Gulf of Mexico was a special event.
Bigfin squids (Magnapinna) can grow longer than 6 metres in length with its arms and tentacles taking up most of its overall size. They are rarely spotted as they live in extreme depths. Like other squid, the species has eight arms and two tentacles that are covered with microscopic suckers but the bigfin squid uses its arms differently to other squid species. Researchers suspect that it casts its long arms downwards when fluttering up to catch its prey, somewhat like a living spider web.
The bigfin squid was only officially described by scientists around 20 years ago. The species can be found throughout the world’s ocean where they live in depths of up to 4,800 metres. The individual recently caught on camera was spotted at 2,385 metres.
While three species of bigfin squid have been officially described, scientists suspect there may be more. With more deep ocean explorations, more sightings will be recorded which hopefully will uncover more information on the biology and the behaviour of this elusive squid.
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Photography courtesy of NOAA Ocean Exploration, Gulf of Mexico 2021 Expedition.