As OceanX researchers explored a ship wreck 850 meters deep in the Red Sea, an animal walked past their underwater robot’s camera.
“As long as I live, I will never forget what happened.” The OceanX research program team unveiled a video shot in September 2020 in which they observed an intriguing creature in the depths of the Red Sea. On that date, scientists had initiated a two-week mission to explore the wreck of the “Pella”, a ship that sank in November 2011 while on its way to the Egyptian port of Nuweiba.
After locating the boat that caught fire off Aqaba (Jordan) while it was carrying 1,229 passengers, the OceanX team decided to launch a remotely piloted submarine robot. The researchers did not expect to find this animal more than 850 meters deep. “Suddenly, as we were looking at the bow of the wreck, this huge creature appeared. She took a look at the ROV [l’appareil télécommandé, ndlr] and wrapped his whole body around the bow, ”exclaimed Mattie Rodrigue, director of the science program.
Some of you wanted to know more about the shipwreck where we saw a very large squid * last year.
* https: //t.co/mglsfjgcp9pic.twitter.com/fWGtBBQPNU
– OceanX (@oceanx) October 8, 2021
Not a giant squid
It was not until a year, in September 2021, that the scientist was finally interested in the nature of the species encountered. According to Mike Vecchione, a researcher with the United States Oceanic and Atmospheric Observation Agency (NOAA), who was able to view the images, it was a Sthenoteuthis oualaniensis, in other words, a squid with purple bands, also nicknamed “flying squid” in view of its way of swimming.
“In the area where you operate, in the Red Sea, there is a well-known population of these animals,” he said. They get really big. I think what you saw is the giant shape of a Sthenoteuthis“. The marine life specialist explained that the size of the animal’s fin in relation to its body proves it was not a giant squid (Architeuthis dux). “Its fins are short and broad and form what looks like an arrowhead shape, while a giant squid’s are usually larger,” he continued.
OceanX had already made the news in 2019 for filming prehistoric sharks 400 meters deep. This ocean exploration program is co-funded by American billionaire Ray Dalio and the philanthropic organization Bloomberg Philanthropies.
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