A team of marine biologists and filmmakers had the shock of a lifetime when they embarked on a journey to explore the depths of the Red Sea in 2020.
The OceanX OceanXplorer research vessel cameras captured a giant monster while studying the wreckage of the passenger ship Pella at a depth of over 2,800 feet, and the team is now sharing a video of the encounter as well as the creature's identification.
Mike Vecchione, a zoologist and squid expert, examined the clip and concluded that, despite its size, the species was not a "giant squid" based on its body proportions and fin structure. It was identified by Vecchione as a gigantic purpleback flying squid.
The fast-moving animal and Vecchione's assessment can be seen in an OceanX video uploaded on Wednesday.
OceanX research program head Mattie Rodrigue recounted spotting the squid for the first time as it swam past the wreck's bow. She estimated the squid to be larger than a human.
"I was frozen in absolute shock," Rodrigue said.
During subsequent dives, the researchers saw the same squid or others that looked like it. They depict "the giant form" of the purpleback flying squid, according to Vecchione.
OceanX is an organization dedicated to ocean research, exploration, outreach, and protection. The goal of the Red Sea mission was to find out "How do species in the Red Sea thrive where others would die?"
Large species, such as squids, were discovered, as well as climate-change-resistant corals.
Giant squid are fabled sea animals that had never been photographed or filmed alive in their natural habitats until 2004. The first live image of a mature giant squid was taken in Japan in 2002, but the monster was discovered near the surface and died soon after.
The first photographs of a giant squid in its natural habitat were taken in 2004 600 miles south of Tokyo. The first video was taken in 2006, and the most recent film was taken in 2019 in the Gulf of Mexico by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
Despite the fact that the squid in the OceanX isn't the fabled Giant Squid, the purpleback flying squid is nonetheless a fascinating animal to capture - and was certainly an unexpected sight on the OceanX expedition.