The giant squid has featured as one of man’s most awesome foes in popular culture since rumours of the existence of the fearsome creature first appeared in ancient Greek and Norse mythology.
But with its mythical status it is easy to forget that the giant squid is a real animal that patrols the depths of the oceans as well as our imaginations.
And now a video of a terrifyingly large giant squid has emerged – showing it trying to steal the haul of a team of Russian fishermen.
In the video, the squid can be seen trying to feast on a large fish as it is being hauled out of the ocean onto a fishing vessel.
The video shows the sailors trying to prod it with a long pole from the side of the boat to try to save their catch.
The squid, which is is at least five times as long as the fish it is trying to steal, is not easily dissuaded, and appears to have captured the fish several times in its huge beak, only to be pushed back by the frantic sailors.
After the squid retreats, the sailors can be heard cheering at the spectacle of the gargantuan cephalopod – and at the the prospect of retaining their catch, which a few seconds earlier seemed lost to the monster of the deep.
Before swimming out of sight, the spectacular creature floats alongside the vessel for a few moments, displaying its impressive tentacles and bulbous body.
It is not clear if the squid featured in the video is in fact a giant squid – which is longer- or a colossal squid, which is broader and heavier.
Despite knowing about the giant squid for centuries, little is known about the animal because very few live specimens have been captured and there is precious little footage of it in the wild.
‘Several years ago I noticed that people kept saying that giant squids reached 60 feet in length, which is amazingly long,’ said Craig McClain, assistant director of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, North Carolina.
‘When I started actually looking at the data, I found that that estimate was actually quite unrealistic.’
Real measurements show that these creatures are actually closer to 40 feet (12 m) long, and even that is extremely rare, and the vast majority of its length are in its tentacles.
The colossal squid reaches similar lengths, but its body is far larger.
‘Its eyes are supposedly the largest in the animal kingdom,’ Leslie Schwerin, who produced a documentary about giant squid, told Discovery.
‘As big as a basketball perhaps. I mean bigger than my head, which is amazing to think about. And that’s so they can see in the dark.
‘We can’t see down 2,000 feet (610 m) – it’s all dark to us – but they see things. They see light trickling through, and that’s because their eyes are so big.’