Researchers Capture Footage of Rare Bioluminescent Deep-Sea Squid

Researchers captured footage of a deep-sea bioluminescent squid more than a kilometer below the surface of the ocean.

The video, captured by researchers from the University of Western Australia’s Minderoo-UWA Deep Sea Research Center and Kelpie Geosciences in the UK, shows two angles of a Dana octopus squid going after a camera. The team was in the middle of retrieving a camera that was deployed more than five kilometers deep in the Samoan Passage of the Pacific Ocean. But afterward, researchers realized the gear was in the midst of a rare sighting, a Taningia Danae, better known as the Dana octopus squid.

In the video, the squid — which is not an octopus despite the name — can be seen moving toward one of the cameras.

“The squid, which was about 75 centimeters long, descended on our camera assuming it was prey, and tried to startle it with its huge bioluminescent headlights,” UWA Associate Professor and Kelpie Geosciences scientist Heather Stewart says.

One camera captured the deep-sea squid as it pulled its arms and tentacles around the gear. On its tentacles, the Dana octopus squid has photophores, “which produce bright bioluminescent flashes to startle and disorientate prey when hunting,” according to UWA.

“As we were reviewing the footage, we realized we had captured something very rare,” Stewart says.

Live footage of these animals is extremely rare, and “many records of this species are from strandings, accidental bycatch or from the stomach contents of whales,” Minderoo-UWA Deep Sea Research Centre Director and professor Alan Jamieson said in the release.

“The rarity of live observations of these amazing animals,” he continues, “makes every encounter valuable in gathering information on geographic locations, depth, and behavior, plus it is such a unique animal that we hardly ever get to see, so we had to share it.”

The video manages to give viewers a detailed look, though. In addition to the footage from the camera the squid attached to, another vantage point plays as well, and both can be seen in slow motion. The bioluminescence of the Dana octopus squid is seen from both angles, making for some mesmerizing footage.

After striking a pose, or simply not finding a satisfying meal in the camera, the squid floats away.

Image credits: UWA/Inkfish