For centuries, sailors told tales of monsters lurking in the ocean’s depths. Today, science has largely demystified those monsters. Now, we know they’re giant squid or some form of whale. However, scientific demystification doesn’t make seeing one of these massive creatures any less shocking. Last year, researchers on the Red Sea learned this first hand. Their entire team was stunned to see a massive mystery squid inhabiting a shipwreck.
OceanX’s OceanXplorer research vessel was on the Red Sea in late 2020. According to CNET, they were investigating the wreck of Pella, a passenger ship resting 2,800 feet below the ocean’s surface. Their unmanned vehicle was taking footage of the wreck when they caught a brief glimpse of the massive mystery squid. “I was frozen in absolute shock,” recalled Mattie Rodrigue, OceanX’s science program lead.
The massive squid didn’t stay a mystery for long. Fortunately, Mike Vecchione, a zoologist and squid expert took a look at the footage and knew what he was looking at. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the legendary Kraken or even a giant squid. Vecchione said that it was just a very large purpleback flying squid.
However, there is some mystery left in this squid story. Purpleback squid aren’t normally this big. In fact, the largest normal-sized individuals are about six inches long. This one, on the other hand, was “larger than a human,” according to Rodrigue. Vecchione said that this squid represents the “giant form,” of the species.
It gets better, though. It seems that the mystery squid wasn’t alone. The team spotted more huge squid in subsequent dives.
The Mystery Squid Leaves More Questions Than Answers
The OceanX team traveled to the Red Sea to answer a question. They wanted to know how some species thrive in the Red Sea while others would perish in the same waters. The massive squid wasn’t the only one of the mysterious creatures the team found. In fact, the CNET report states that they found several examples of “giant” sea creatures as well as examples of climate change-resistant coral.
The squid’s size isn’t the only mystery, though. Vecchione told Rodrigue that purpleback squid don’t usually hang out in underwater structures like shipwrecks. In fact, he said that there was no record of the species doing so. This means that the OceanX team may have caught anomalous behavior as well as size in the species.
Check out the video below to hear Rodrigue talk more about their journey and the squid. Also, you can listen to her chat with Vecchione about the purpleback squid and its habits. The highlight of the video, though, is all of the footage of the massive sea creature lurking around the shipwreck and approaching their unmanned craft.