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'Otherwordly' bigfin squid that can grow longer than 20-feet spotted in the Gulf of Mexico

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‘Otherwordly’ bigfin squid that can grow longer than 20-feet and has ‘elbow-like bends’ is spotted swimming 1.5 miles below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico

  • Scientists on a deep sea expedition in the Gulf of Mexico spotted the bigfin squid
  • This rare cepahlopod was only identified 20 years ago & seen a handful of times 
  • Bigfin squin have eight arms, two tentacles and ‘elbow-like bends’ that give it its distinctive appearance
  • The video was captured at a depth of 1.5 miles below the surface, but bigfin squid have been known to swim as deep as 3 miles below


Scientists on a deep sea expedition have spotted one of the rarest creatures in the ocean, the bigfin squid.

Researchers on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Okeanos Explorer were performing their Windows to the Deep 2021 expedition when they spotted the mysterious cephalopod 1.5 miles below the surface on November 9 in the Gulf of Mexico.

The ‘otherwordly,’ ‘ghostly’ and ‘very alienish’ squid (belonging to the Mangapinna genus) was only identified 20 years ago and has only been seen a handful of times since then.

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Little is known about the creatures, except that there are three species, with the possibility for more.

Scientists on a deep sea expedition recently spotted the rare bigfin squid

Scientists on a deep sea expedition recently spotted the rare bigfin squid

The discovery took place in the West Florida Escarpment portion of the Gulf of Mexico

The discovery took place in the West Florida Escarpment portion of the Gulf of Mexico

This rare cepahlopod was only identified 20 years ago and has only been seen a handful of times since

This rare cepahlopod was only identified 20 years ago and has only been seen a handful of times since

With eight arms, two tentacles and ‘elbow-like bends’ that give the bigfin squid its distinctive appearance, these creatures of the deep can surpass 19.7 feet (6 meters) in length, NOAA added. 

‘How exactly bigfin squid use their arms and tentacles is unknown,’ NOAA wrote in a statement.

‘But, these appendages have microscopic suckers on them, and scientists think it’s likely that squid use them to trap prey that bump into them as they hang down in the water below their body or drag along the seafloor.

‘Currently, scientists have officially described three species of bigfin squid, but there may be more.

‘With each sighting, we learn more about these elusive wondrous animals, but there’s so much to learn.’  

The video was captured at a depth of 1.5 miles below the surface, but bigfin squid have been known to swim as deep as 3 miles below the surface.

The scientists used a remote-operated vehicle (ROV) to dive into the West Florida Escarpment portion of the Gulf and the ROV’s camera captured the footage.  

The largest known bigfin squid was 21 feet (6.4m) long, with its arms and tentacles were 20 feet (6.1m) long. 

The scientists used a remote-operated vehicle (ROV) to dive into the the West Florida Escarpment portion of the gulf and the ROV's camera captured the footage

The scientists used a remote-operated vehicle (ROV) to dive into the the West Florida Escarpment portion of the gulf and the ROV’s camera captured the footage

With eight arms, two tentacles and 'elbow-like bends' that give the bigfin squid its distinctive appearance, these creatures of the deep can surpass 19.7 feet (6 meters) in length

With eight arms, two tentacles and ‘elbow-like bends’ that give the bigfin squid its distinctive appearance, these creatures of the deep can surpass 19.7 feet (6 meters) in length

Scientists believe that bigfin squid feed by dragging their arms and tentacles along the seafloor, and grabbing organisms off the floor.

They may however simply use a trapping technique, waiting passively for prey to bump into their arms.

The bigfin squid has been spotted several other times in recent memory: in 2020, scientists spotted five sightings of the squid off the coast of Australia. 

A 26-foot bigfin squid was spotted lurking underneath an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico in 2013.    

This is not the only unexpected find NOAA researchers have made in recent memory. 

In August, a never-before-seen jellyfish with a red disk-shaped body hiding nearly 2,300 feet below the surface in the Atlantic Ocean was captured on film for the first time.  

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