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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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M. Vecchione, R.E. Young, A. Guerra, D.J. Lindsay, D.A. Clague, J.M. Bernhard, W.W. Sager, A.F. Gonzalez, F.J. Rocha, and M. Segonzac

2001
Worldwide observations of remarkable deep-sea squids.
Science, vol. 294: 2505-2506.

SUMMARY: We report eight observations from submersibles of large (up to about 7 meters) unknown squids at bathypelagic depths in four ocean basins: Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific Ocean. All shared unique features: very long contractile arms and tentacles which appear identical, arms held outward from the body axis then abruptly bent anteriorly, and extremely large terminal fins which slowly undulate. No specimens were captured and mophology is different from any known family. They are, however, most similar to the family Magnapinnidae.

Mystery Squid 2 Fig 1A: French manned submersible Nautile, July 1992, west of Africa (03° 40' N, 002° 30' W), 3010 and 2950 m. The first of two sightings was approximately 20 cm above a sedimentary seafloor. The squid initially had its extremely long arms and tentacles spread with acute bends. The two tentacles (modified ventrolateral arms) could not be distinguished morphologically from the eight arms.
(No Video Available)

Mystery Squid 4 Fig. 1B: Japanese manned submersible Shinkai 6500, November 1998, Indian Ocean (32° 45' S, 057° 13' E), 2340 m. This squid was oriented vertically very close to the bottom with large undulating fins. The arms and tentacles were spread in the bent-arm posture described above. The body length (mantle+fins+head) was estimated to be ca. 10-15 cm and the arms with extensions were >1 m long. The squid drifted past the submersible. No escape response was noted even when the arms and tentacles brushed the sample basket.
(No Video Available)

Mystery Squid 6 Fig. 1C: Remotely operated vehicle (ROV) operated from the oil-drilling ship Millennium Explorer, January 2000, Mississippi Canyon, Gulf of Mexico (28º 37' N, 088º 00' W), 2195 m. When first encountered, this squid was hovering in a posture as described above. Tentacles could not be distinguished from the arms, although 10 appendages were visible.
AVI video (2,053 Kb)
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Mystery Squid 6 Same observation. After disturbance by the ROV, the squid began to swim by strongly flapping its fins and towing the brachial crown similarly to observation Figure 1A, above.
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MPEG video (819 Kb)

Mystery Squid 6 Same observation. The squid became entangled in the ROV and seemed to have difficulty releasing its arms and tentacles from contact. During its attempts to swim away, multiple appendages stretched greatly.
AVI video (1,715 Kb)
MPEG video (692 Kb)

Mystery Squid 6 Same observation. By comparison with visible parts of the ROV, the submersible operators estimated the total length of the animal with fully stretched appendages to be approximately 7 m.
AVI video (1,938 Kb)
MPEG video (784 Kb)

Mystery Squid 7 Fig. 1D: U.S. manned submersible Alvin, October 2000, Atwater Valley site, northern Gulf of Mexico (27º 34.714N, 88º 30.590W), 1940 m depth. This squid initially drifted within ca. 2-3 m of the bottom in a posture similar to that described above. Ten very similar appendages could easily be counted.
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Mystery Squid 7 Same observation. During an extreme close-up, tiny suckers could be seen along the oral surfaces of the proximal arms.
AVI video (1,926 Kb)
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Mystery Squid 7 Same observation. At first, the squid exhibited no apparent reaction to the presence of the submersible. After a few minutes it moved slowly away, flapping its fins but with the arm crown still spread.
AVI video (1,356 Kb)
MPEG video (936 Kb)

Mystery Squid 8 Fig. 1E: ROV Tiburon, May 2001, north of Oahu, Hawaii (21.9° N, 158.2° W), 3380 m. Squid was videotaped for nearly 10 min. When first encountered, it was hovering vertically in the bent-arm posture with the filamentous appendages touching the sediment-covered bottom. Its body was estimated to be ca. 1 m long and the arm crown 3-4 m.
AVI video (1,392 Kb)
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Mystery Squid 8 Same observation. In close-up, tiny suckers could be seen on the proximal arms.
(No Video Available)

Mystery Squid 8 Same observation. The long arms contacted the ROV, eliciting an escape response similar to those described above. When the squid changed from hovering to rapid swimming, the first pulse included a contraction of the mantle, but no additional jetting was subsequently observed. The arms and tentacles were highly contractile.
AVI video (1,337 Kb)
MPEG video (875 Kb)

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