Scientists have captured rare footage of five Bigfin Squid in the GreatAustralian Bight, the first time they’ve been seen in Australian waters.

The squid were filmed at depths of two to three kilometres during deep-seasurvey voyages led by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO.

Marine scientist Deborah Osterhage said Bigfin Squid belonged to the familyMagnapinnidae, a group of deep-sea squid which have large fins and extremelylong, slender arm and tentacle filaments.

“Sightings of Bigfin Squid are very rare. These are the first records inAustralian waters, adding to only a dozen confirmed sightings worldwide,” MsOsterhage said.
“Most previous reports have been of single Bigfin Squid, so it’s exciting tohave recorded five in the Great Australian Bight.

“Differences in their appearance meant we were able to confirm they were fiveseparate individuals, rather than the same squid multiple times, and althoughthe surveys covered a relatively large area, the squid were actually foundclustered close together.”

LEFT: The site in the Great Australian Bight where the BigfinSquid were found.

Two of the squid were filmed using a specially designed deep-water towedcamera system during a voyage on CSIRO research vessel Investigator , whilethe other three were filmed using deep-water Remotely Operated

“After spotting Bigfin Squid in the towed camera footage we were really on thelook-out for them during the subsequent ROV voyage,” Ms Osterhage said.

“The ROVs were controlled by operators on the ship, and scientists were ableto direct what was filmed.

“We were very excited to see the Bigfin Squid again and obtain thisextraordinary footage.

Vehicles (ROVs) on the charter vessel REM Etive.

“It has enabled us to learn more about this elusive and intriguing deep-seasquid.

“We measured one Bigfin Squid using parallel laser measurement guides andfound it was over 1.8 metres long, with arm and tentacle filaments more than11 times the mantle (body) length.

“We also observed their colour and behaviours, including filament coiling, abehaviour not previously seen in squids.
Prior to these voyages almost nothing was known of animals living in thebenthic zone (the zone near the sea floor) in the Great Australian Bight deep-sea.

“We also saw brightly coloured corals, tulip-like glass sponges, and many morebeautiful and unusual animals. With every voyage we undertake we discover moreabout Australia’s vast deep-sea environment, and there is much to learn,” MsOsterhage said.

Ms Osterhage is a graduate of the University of Tasmania. She worked for CSIROwhile studying Bigfin Squid and characterising benthic biota from deep-seaimagery.

The paper “Multiple observations of Bigfin Squid (Magnapinna sp.) in the GreatAustralian Bight reveal distribution patterns, morphological characteristics,and rarely seen behaviour” was published in PLOS ONE with authors from CSIROand Museums Victoria.

Top image: One of the Bigfin Squid found in the Great Australian Bight. Thesize of this squid coud not be determined due to poor visibilty.

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