Hold on to your scuba tanks, rods, and paddles–researchers in Japan may have captured the first film footage of a giant squid alive in its natural habitat. Over the course of 100 missions, a film crew with Japan’s National Museum of Nature and Science (also called National Museum of Science), U.S. Discovery Channel, and Japanese broadcaster NHK spent 400 hours trying to film the elusive creature.

In July of 2012, the film crew captured the first moving footage of the animal in its natural habitat about nine miles east of Chichi Island in the north Pacific Ocean, about 621 miles south of Tokyo. The film specimen was located at approximately 630 meters (2,066 feet) below the surface. The squid in the video measured about three meters (10 feet) long and the crew was able to follow it down to about 900 meters (2,952 feet) before it disappeared into the ocean abyss.

Tsunemi Kubodera, a squid specialist and researcher with the museum, said rigorous research led the crew to the most likely location of the squid. Kubodera said the squid may have actually been up to eight meters (26 feet) long, but it was missing two of its longest arms for unknown reasons.

Still image of the giant squid.

”With this footage we hope to discover more about the life of the species,” Kubodera told reporters. The area where this squid was spotted is the same as another squid witnessed in 2006, leading scientists to believe this could be a hub of habitat for the animal.

“When Discovery does natural history it sets the bar high, and this ground breaking project features the very first ever footage of a live giant squid in its natural habitat. Our crew came face-to-face with the giant squid, and it’s the ideal season finale for our Curiosity series that stirs the imagination of our audience, bravely asking questions and fearlessly seeking answers. This latest production, four years in the making, is a world-first achievement for television, and I’m excited to share it,” said Eileen O’Neill, Group President of Discovery and TLC Networks, in a press release.

NHK in Japan will broadcast the footage on January 13 in the “NHK Special” program. Discovery Channel will premiere the footage of the giant squid titled “Monster Squid: The Giant is Real” on January 27 at 8 p.m. ET/PT as the season finale of Curiosity.

Image courtesy NHK/NEP/Discovery Channel

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