TOYOOKA, Hyogo Prefecture — Two scuba divers captured rare photos and video of a giant squid slowly plodding along the coast and unusually close to the surface.
Giant squids are one of the largest invertebrates known and live in the deep sea, but many aspects of their lives remain a mystery, and it is incredibly rare for humans to see them up close.
Tsutomu Yoda, a 46-year-old fishing equipment owner living in Toyooka, was on a boat near a port in the city around 4 p.m. on January 6 when he noticed the large squid thrashing its tentacles around the surface of the sea.
He immediately called Miki Tanaka, a 34-year-old diving instructor who lives in Toyooka, to alert her of the presence of the creature.
She and her husband Yosuke sank into the sea around 4: 30 p.m. that day and saw the roughly 2.5 meter long giant squid swimming at a slower pace.
They approached close enough to be able to touch the squid with their hands so that Yosuke could photograph it while Miki took video.
Yosuke said they kept their distance. He said he wanted to make sure he was not too close to the squid's tentacles because they were very thick and looked dangerous.
He said it had very big, powerful eyes and suckers.
Tsunemi Kubodera, 71, an honorary researcher at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo, was the first in the world to successfully shoot video of a living giant squid in 2006.
Kubodera said giant squids usually live around three years and that the giant squid spotted in Toyooka is probably 1 to 2 years old.
Experts believe that giant squids usually live at a depth of 600 to 1,000 meters, where the water temperature is 4 to 10 degrees.
The giant squid was spotted at a depth of around 5 meters, where the water temperature was about 13 degrees.
Kubodera said that the squid moved to the relatively warm sea near the coast to escape the cold winter seawater. The squid looked very weak in the video.