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13 November 2020, 17:04

Rare Bigfin Squid sighted in Australian waters for first time

Photo provided by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) on Nov. 12, 2020 shows the Bigfin Squid.
Photo provided by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) on Nov. 12, 2020 shows the Bigfin Squid.

CANBERRA, 13 November (BelTA - Xinhua) - Researchers from Australia's national science agency have filmed elusive Bigfin Squid in Australian waters for the first time.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) on Thursday revealed that a deep-sea voyage into the Great Australian Bight off the coast of South Australia (SA) captured footage of five squid two to three kilometers below the ocean's surface.

Named for their big fins that flap, the squid have thin strands dangling off the end of their tentacles that can grow up to eight meters long.

According to Deborah Osterhage, a CSIRO marine scientist, there have been only about a dozen confirmed sightings of the squid worldwide.

"Most previous reports have been of single Bigfin Squid, so it's exciting to have recorded five in the Great Australian Bight," she said in a media release.

"Differences in their appearance meant we were able to confirm they were five separate individuals, rather than the same squid multiple times, and although the surveys covered a relatively large area, the squid were actually found clustered close together.

Osterhage said they could learn more about this elusive and intriguing deep-sea squid.

"We measured one Bigfin Squid using parallel laser measurement guides and found it was over 1.8 meters long, with arm and tentacle filaments more than 11 times the mantle (body) length.

"We also observed their colour and behaviors, including filament coiling, a behaviour not previously seen in squids."

The sightings were confirmed by Mike Vecchione, a zoologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. who scientifically named the bigfin squid family Magnapinnidae in 1998.

The discovery also marked one of the first times that creatures living near the seafloor in the Great Australian Bight have been filmed.

"We also saw brightly coloured corals, tulip-like glass sponges, and many more beautiful and unusual animals," Osterhage said.

"With every voyage we undertake we discover more about Australia's vast deep-sea environment, and there is much to learn."

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