Scientists have developed a way to actually attract giant squid close enough to their cameras and equipment underwater to get video footage – by baiting the squid with a tasty electronic light show that mimics a favorite food. The use of this new tech with a nod to the natural light environment – the only light at these depths are bioluminescent light and what little sunlight remains from hundreds of meters above – allowed this expedition to succeed where many others had failed. The below clip is part of a ton of footage to be aired on January 27th on the Discovery Channel’s “Monster Squid: The Giant is Real.”
Giant Squid footage. Source: The Guardian.
The light show that attracts the squid (click on the image below for popup video) is pretty interesting – researchers created a light pattern that mimics a prey animal. From the Ocean Research and Conservation Association:
Dr. Widder was invited to join the expedition because of her successes with the Eye-in-the-Sea, a deep-sea camera observatory that she developed as a means of exploring the deep ocean unobtrusively. The Eye-in-the-Sea uses low light imaging in combination with far-red illumination that is invisible to most deep-sea animals. The primary motivation for its development was the desire to observe animals that would normally be disturbed or frightened away by the white lights and noisy thrusters used on standard observation platforms.
She also developed a novel optical lure that imitates certain bioluminescent displays, thought to be attractive to large predators. Known as the electronic jellyfish or e-jelly the lure imitates the bioluminescent burglar alarm display of the common deep-sea jellyfish Atolla wyvillei.
Bioluminescent mimicry is a promising new way to attract deep-sea creatures. Check out the full story and some cool details about the equipment over at the ORCO site, and put the Discovery channel January 27th show on your calendar.