This Bigfin Squid Is a Spaghetti-Armed Nightmare of the Deep

Weird creatures that inhabit the ocean’s depths fall into a few different categories. There are, for example, those that look like they come from another planet. As well as the adorable, weird little nerdy ones. And then there are the unadulterated nightmares. The bigfin squid falls into the latter category and, for our H.P. Love-cash, may be the most haunting one we’ve ever seen.

As Smithsonian Magazine reports, a team of deep-sea researchers discovered a new specimen of bigfin squid toward the beginning of last year. The researchers were on their way to exploring a shipwreck when they—unknowingly—came across the squid. It wasn’t until team members processed the video footage from the expedition that Alan Jamieson, a deep-sea researcher from the University of Western Australia, eyed the horror of the deep.

A clip from the footage is in the tweet above, although it’s obviously difficult to make out the creature; it’s not only a small, juvenile specimen, but darkness also shrouds its bizarre, creepy physiology. Luckily, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has stellar video (below) of an adult bigfin that it posted in late 2021.

In the NOAA’s video we see the bigfin squid on full display. The bigfin squid, which belongs to the genus Magnapinna, has a small mantle—or body containing its organs—but exceedingly long tentacles. The NOAA notes that the largest bigfin squid scientists have ever discovered was 21 feet long. Twenty of those feet were just tentacles, however, making them 20 times longer than its total mantle length.

The NOAA notes that bigfin squid have a wide distribution throughout the ocean’s depths; prior to Jamieson et al.’s discovery the record for a specimen was 15,534 feet, or about three miles below the water’s surface. Now, with this new specimen? That record is set at an incredible 20,380 feet, or nearly four miles.

A Bigfin squid swimming through the ocean's depths, with a similar physiology to the juvenile scientists discovered in 2021 during an expedition to a shipwreck.

Bigfin squid are “really weird” Mike Vecchione, a zoologist at the Smithsonian Institution who studied Jamieson’s video, told Hakai Magazine. “They drift along with their arms spread out [with] these really long, skinny, spaghetti-like extensions dangling down underneath them,” the zoologist added. Vecchione says that bigfins use microscopic suckers on their tentacles to capture their prey. Although we imagine striking fear into their snacks’ hearts plays some part in the process as well.

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