In late 2020 a team of scientists performing ecology surveys in the northern part of the Red Sea discovered a shipwreck. Upon close inspection of the wreck, a “massive” mysterious squid appeared; teasing the scientists with possibilities of what it could be. Now, the scientists think they know to which species the giant squid belongs. Although a new video of the creature still makes it seem like something that’d kick off an X-Files episode.
CNET reported on the newly released video of the mysterious giant squid. The team of scientists was aboard the maiden voyage of the research vessel, OceanXplorer. The OceanX organization, which aims “to create a deeply engaged global community of explorers, scientists, and storytellers,” launched this vessel in 2020.
In the video above, OceanX Science Program Lead Mattie Rodrigue describes the moment she and her colleagues aboard the vessel saw the mystery squid at a depth of 2,800 feet. Apparently, the scientists weren’t expecting it at all. And it appeared out of nowhere.
Rodrigue describes how the crew aboard the research vessel was looking at the bow of the sunken ship, the Pella, in the video above, when a “massive creature [came] into view,” took “a look at the ROV,” and proceeded to curl its body around the bow of the wreck. (You can observe the look of absolute shock on Rodrigue’s face around two and a half minutes into the video.)
As for what the squid is? Rodrigue asks NOAA zoologist Dr. Michael Vecchione for his opinion in the video, and his educated guess is it’s a Purpleback Flying Squid. A “giant form” of the species of squid, to be exact. As the Natural Museum of History notes, Purplebacks, or Sthenoteuthis oualaniensis, are cephalopod species in the arrow squid family. S. oualaniensis is common in the northern part of the Red Sea, although Vecchione notes this is the first time he’s seen one around a shipwreck.
It’s hard to say how giant the mystery squid is, but CNET reports that Rodrigue pegs it at larger than a human. Indeed, members of the arrow squid family can grow up to about seven feet in length. That makes this estimate firmly within the realm of possibility. Although something tells us there are much larger Purplebacks out there. Just waiting to freak out another team of scientists.