For whoever was born before the 90’s, the Kraken was the Western world’s Godzilla, a giant squid said to mercilessly foil the plans of sea navigators, regardless of their moral inclination, whether they were explorers or pirates.
Ever since the dawn of printing, countless books have depicted the giant squid, Architeuthis, crushing ships along with everyone it could get its tentacles on. This must have helped with humanity taking to flight, and exploring more of space than Earth’s oceans.
The creature has been filmed thanks to Edith Widder’s unobtrusive technique
Even though the giant squid’s myth has been fading, scientists aren’t concerned with that and continue to study the largest of specimens. Audiences are curios of watching this process of discovery.
Oceanographer Edith Widder was crucial in luring the creature and capturing high definition footage of it for the first time, earlier this year.
Having tested a wide range of submersibles for deep sea exploration, she realized that no matter how quiet their propulsion systems could be, the sound would still interfere with deep sea creatures’ dead-still habitat and scare them off.
Upon being commissioned for the giant squid’s “hunt”, she knew exactly what to do, in relation to deep sea photography. She developed a totally unobtrusive platform that consisted of an optical lure, called an e-jelly, attached to a battery-powered camera platform, which was named Medusa.
The e-jelly decoy mimicked bioluminescent distress signals made by jellyfish when attacked, which usually attract large predators like the giant squid. The Medusa’s only light source for photography in pitch black conditions consisted of a red light LED panel. Red light is invisible to deep aquatic life-forms.
Tsunemi Kubodera collaborated successfully for the first giant squid recording
In an expedition off the coast of Japan, lead by squid expert Tsunemi Kubodera, the device was launched and it worked like a charm. Thanks to Widder’s revolutionary system and Kubodera’s experience of previous encounters, a 30 feet long specimen was filmed for the first time, in its natural habitat.
Deep sea exploration needs a similar commitment to that of space
Edith Widder wishes that ocean exploration had an organization similar to NASA. This would have resulted in a much faster discovery of a live specimen of the giant squid, and greater environmental consciousness. In 2005, she founded the Ocean Research & Conservation Association (ORCA), which is dedicated to developing new tools for the protection of water ecosystems.
Only about 5% of our oceans have been explored. Edith Widder says that there are surely amazing discoveries to be made down there, not only of fantastic creatures but also of bioactive compounds that could benefit the entire world, in ways yet unimaginable.