New Video Discovery From Drilling Site Reveals Alien Long Arm Squid

In the Gulf of Mexico, some two hundred miles from Houston and a mile and a half underwater at a drilling site known as Perdido, a remote control submersible camera has captured the bizarre images of a weird and eerie creature.

No, this is not an updated version of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, although it would be understandable for those who might for a fleeting moment think so. The video depicting the “elbowed” Magnapinna Squid was made in November of 2007 and was recently obtained by National Geographic News.

Perdido is owned by the Shell Oil Company and is one of the world’s deepest oil and gas development sites. The ROV (remotely operated vehicle) captured the jerky movements of a squid with huge fins and remarkable tentacles that trail from weird, elbow-like appendages. The Magnapinna, or “big fin” squid remains a scientific mystery; a misunderstood anomaly whose mere presence raises more questions than answers.

Unlike other giant squids that have eight short arms and two long tentacles, Magnapinna has ten appendages that appear to be all the same length. According to deep-sea biologist, Bruce Robison of the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California:

“The most peculiar structure is that of the arms. Judging from that structure, we think the animal feeds by dragging its arms and the ends of its tentacles along the seafloor as it drifts slowly above it. Imagine spreading the fingers of a hand and dragging the fingertips along the top of a table to grab bits of food.”

One can only wonder what purpose the elbow-like angles of the tentacles serve. They allow the tentacles to spread out and perhaps, prevent them from getting tangled. It’s as good a guess as any.

The aforementioned video marks the first sighting of a Magnapinna at the Perdido oil development site, although its presence there has not peaked any special interest from marine experts. ROVs have captured Magnapinna squid on film at least a dozen times in recent years in the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The video and others of its ilk are evidence of a growing trend concerning deeper dives that are yielding valuable and mysterious footage of creatures that live at previously unexplored depths.

The finds are so extraordinary and so telling for the progress of marine biology studies that some scientists have joined forces with oil companies for the express purpose of being able to share ROV camera time. There are outspoken critics of these alliances, as some claim that such a partnership by its own definition presents a conflict of interests.

The director of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Undersea Research Center, Andrew Shepard, is excited about this potential for new ocean resources, but he does have reservations. In his own words:

“Oil companies are there to develop hydrocarbons, not find new species… These discoveries may, in fact, have a negative impact on very expensive and valuable lease tracts if someone decides a rare species needs to be protected.”


The first documentation of a Magnapinna squid was done more than a decade ago by biologist, Michael Vecchione, of the NOAA, who is based at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. In 1998, he and University of Hawaii biologist, Richard Young, documented the Magnapinna pacifica species and created a new classification category to accommodate it; namely, the family Magnapinnidae, which currently contains four separate species.

Some eight years ago, the two biologists released the first scientific report based on the study of this odd species of squid, which clearly demonstrated that Magnapinna are found across the globe about 4,000 feet below the surface in the permanent dark zone of the ocean.

The remaining three species, Magnapinna talismani, Magnapinna atlantica and one as yet nameless species based on a specimen found in the mid Atlantic were found in 2006 and 2007. According to Vecchione, the fourth remains unknown because its arms were too badly damaged for a complete study, but “it was clearly different from the three known species.”

Magnapinna is a scientific anomaly. Its feeding behavior is passive and so different from others of its kind; it resembles trapping more than hunting. This squid also appears to be smaller than its cousins, ranging in size from 5 to 23 feet long. The largest known giant squid measured approximately 52 feet long.

The Magnapinna squid represents only one of many unanswered mysteries hidden in the vast depths of the enduring sea. The more technology permits man to probe, the more we learn. There is no question that these new findings are a boon for scientific inquiry and study, but on the other hand, it probably couldn’t be a more terrifying situation for the creatures hiding there who don’t want to be discovered!

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