For a long time, the giant squid was a creature of legend, and only fairly recently have living examples been captured in photos and on video.
The squid has been referenced by Aristotle in 4th century B.C., and Pliny the Elder in 1st century A.D. Stories and legends of the massive squid shared by sailors may have been the inspiration for the mythical beast known as the kraken, as well as other fantastical sea monsters.
In the 1800s, strandings of squid on the shores of Newfoundland and New Zealand led to a better understanding of the animal by scientists.
It wasn’t until 2001 that the very first images of a giant squid were captured on film, although it was not the massive adult squid that was filmed, but the tiny larval (baby) form. The first photo of a live adult giant squid was taken in 2002 off the coast of Japan. Found near the water’s surface, this squid was believed to be in poor health and died soon after it was encountered.
The first photos of a live adult giant squid in its natural habitat were captured in 2004, again off the coast of Japan. These photos gave insight into the hunting behavior of the giant squid. The first video of a living adult squid was captured in 2006, off the Gulf of California in Mexico. A juvenile giant squid was also caught on film in the Gulf of Mexico in 2019.
Its elusive and legendary status has led the giant squid to be featured as a monstrous and frightening beast in many books and films throughout the years, including Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.