By Victoria Woollaston
Lurking deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico is a species of squid that wouldn’t look out of place in a sci-fi thriller.
The Mangapinna squid, sometimes referred to as the bigfin or long-arm squid, is around 26ft in length with thin elastic tentacles thought to be between 15 to 20 times larger than the squid’s body.
Adult bigfins have never been captured or sampled but rare video footage recorded by the Shell Oil company reveals their alien-like behaviour.
The footage was captured using a remotely operated underwater vehicle known as an ROV.
Shell Oil, along with other companies, uses the vehicles to study the water around its oil rigs and this particular recording was filmed in the Gulf of Mexico in the Perdido Area of Alaminos Canyon.
The rare sighting of the squid was discovered at a depth of more than 7,800 ft back in November 2007.
Shell oil has a rig located 200 miles off the coast of Houston, Texas.
Mangapinna squids were first discovered in 1907 but it wasn’t until 1988 that the first footage of the bizarre creatures were caught on camera by a submersible off the coast of Brazil.
Ten years later a Japanese submersible called Shinkai 6500 filmed another long-armed squid in the Indian Ocean south of Mauritius.
The majority of other sightings have been in various canyons in the Gulf of Mexico.
A squid spotted in 2000 was thought to have been around 23ft long.
However, more recent sightings have estimated lengths in excess of 26ft.
Aside from their overall lengths, the arms and the tentacles of the Mangapinna squid are the same length and look identical.
Squids traditionally have two shorter arms and eight longer tentacles.
These ten appendages of the Mangapinna are also often held at right angles to the body, or mantle, which gives them the appearance of having elbows.
The arms and tentacles are said to stretch up to 20 times longer than the mantle while the fins are larger than other species and in some sightings were around 90 per cent as big.
It is thought the squids use their long arms to grab or trap food along the floor of the ocean, although this has never been seen in action.