Almanac: The giant squid

And now a page from our “Sunday Morning” Almanac: December 4th, 2006, 10 years ago today ... the video debut of an elusive ocean beast.

For that was the day Japanese researchers, in a worldwide first, actually videotaped a live giant squid as they attempted to capture it in the Pacific.

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On December 4, 2006, an elusive ocean beast was captured live on video for the very first time.

CBS News

An oversized member of the mollusk family, a giant squid, with its arms and tentacles, is typically well over 20 feet in length and can weigh up to a ton.

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Captain Nemo (James Mason) is caught in the clutches of a giant squid in “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

Walt Disney Pictures

A deep water denizen rarely seen alive by humans, the squid’s fearsome (if bogus) reputation as an attacker of ships and people was long popularized in art and legend, culminating in the attack on Captain Nemo’s submarine, the Nautilus, in the 1954 Disney film of the Jules Verne classic, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

Jules Verne to the contrary, the only casualty in that real-life videotaped encounter ten years ago was the 24-foot-long female giant squid herself. She died during the crew’s attempt to capture it.

As if informed by her example, giant squids generally do their best to avoid human contact.

But the remains of a giant squid, recovered from a fishing net off the coast of Spain, are on view at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

The lifeless squid was transported to Washington inside specially-designed tanks in what the museum dubbed “Operation Calamari.”