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ANIMALS | Seeking the colossal squid

Newfoundland company hopes to catch colossal squid on camera


CBC News

Sunday, December 23, 2018, 11:47 AM - It's the largest invertebrate on earth, weighing up to 750 kg, yet nobody has managed to capture video of the colossal squid in its natural habitat.

SubC Imaging is hoping to change that.

The Clarenville company has teamed up with Kolossal, an ocean exploration and conservation organization in Venice, California in an effort to catch a glimpse of the mysterious sea monster. The creature is known to live at extreme depths in the frigid waters near Antarctica in the Southern Ocean.

Kolossal is trying to raise awareness about the fragile ocean ecosystem there.


Scientists holds the arms of a colossal squid at a national museum facility in Wellington, New Zealand, in 2014. (Nick Perry/Associated Press)

"[It's] the largest squid on the planet so its maximum size ... is 12 to 14 metres long," said Chad Collett, SubC Imaging's chief technology officer.

"It's a very unique and difficult challenge because it's extremely remote."

A few live colossal squid have been caught by fishermen, but the creature has never before been seen in its natural environment.



EXPLORING THE DEEP

Kolossal is using SubC Imaging's 360-degree Rayfin Camera System, a sort of deep-water critter camera, which SubC has been developing for the past two years in Newfoundland.


SubC Imaging's 360-degree underwater camera technology is being used to try to capture the first-ever video of a colossal squid. (submitted photo)

Collett said a California company called Global Ocean Design developed a deployment system to get SubC Imaging's camera to the depths of the Southern Ocean. 

"You throw it over side of a boat, it sinks with weights and then you come back in eight hours or 10 hours or whenever you can and you ping it and then it'll release the weights and float back to the surface," Collett explained.

The work of SubC Imaging and Kolossal has just been given a big acknowledgement in the world of conservation technology: they've won a $20,000 Con X Tech Prize from Conservation X Labs, a startup for tech innovation in conservation and development. 

Though the money is important for the Kolossal, non-profit organization, to continue its exploration work in that remote, unfamiliar part of the ocean, Chad Collett said the hunt for the colossal squid isn't a commercial venture for SubC Imaging. For Collett and his team, it's all about unraveling the mysteries of the ocean and protecting the habitats of species like the colossal squid. 


SubC co-founder Chad Collett holds a Rayfin camera during an interview. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

"It is easy to get excited about ocean conservation when you are working with intelligent people towards a common goal," said Collett.

"We're in it for the exploration and, you know, it's the right thing to do. But, if we get some recognition and some funds to to develop the next stage, that's all a bonus," said Collett.

This article was originally published on CBC.ca.

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