After years of searching, scientists and broadcasters say they have captured video images of a giant squid in its natural habitat deep in the ocean for the first time.
The three-meter (nine-foot) invertebrate was filmed from a manned submersible during one of 100 dives in the Pacific last summer in a joint expedition by Japanese public broadcaster NHK, Discovery Channel and Japan's National Museum of Nature and Science.
NHK released photographs of the giant squid this week ahead of Sunday's show about the encounter. The Discovery Channel will air its program on Jan. 27.
The squid, which was inexplicably missing its two longest tentacles, was spotted in waters east of Chichi Island about 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) south of Tokyo, NHK said. The crew followed it to a depth of 900 metres (2,950 feet).
Little is known about the creature because its harsh environment makes it difficult for scientists to conduct research. Specimens have washed ashore on beaches but never before have been filmed in their normal habitat deep in the ocean, researchers say.
Japanese zoologist Tsunemi Kubodera, who was on board the submersible at the time of the encounter, was able to lure the giant squid with a one-meter (three-foot) -long diamond squid.
All the lights from the submersible were turned off while they waited. At a depth of 640 metres (2,100 feet), the giant squid appeared and wrapped its arms around the bait, eating it for over 20 minutes before letting go.
"What we were able to gain from this experience was the moment of the giant squid attacking its prey, we were able to record that," said Kubodera, who has been researching the giant squid since 2002.