Giant Squid Filmed for the First Time in U.S. Waters

It’s a scene straight out of a horror movie: creepy, crawly arms appear slowly from the darkness, grabbing onto the Medusa, a stealth camera system used by researchers for ocean explanation.

But this isn’t a monster. What researchers caught on camera was a juvenile giant squid estimated to be at least 12 feet tall in the Gulf of Mexico. Making this even more surprising is the fact that this is only the second time a giant squid was caught on camera in the history of ocean exploration.

The Medusa was designed specifically to catch footage of sea creatures who might be too timid or smart to swim right up to a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Instead of the normal bright white light on ROVs, the Medusa uses red lights that are invisible to many deep-sea organisms.

The squid was captured by the Journey into Midnight expedition 759 meters deep. As soon as the Journey to Midnight researchers spotted the creature, they sought confirmation from Michael Vecchione, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration zoologist and expert in octopus and squid. Vecchione was able to identify the creature as a giant squid.

“Our perspective as humans has changed,” says Edie Widder, CEO and Senior Scientist in the Ocean Research & Conservation Association (ORCA). “What were once monsters to be feared are now curious and magnificent creatures that delight. We like to feel that science and exploration has brought about this change, making the world less scary and more wondrous with each new thing we learn.”

Watch the video:

Check out this footage of a giant squid taken by a diver in Japan a few years ago:

WATCH NEXT: Weirdest Creatures Filmed Beneath Oil Rigs