Why giant squid, the once mythical kraken of the deep, are still mystifying scientists 150 years after they were discovered

James Pasley

NASA

The Kraken, the mythical beast of the sea, is real.

Giant squid live in the dark depths of the ocean, and very little is known about them to this day.

Giant_Squid_NASA

Most of what the world has learned about the gargantuan creature, which can grow up to 40 feet long and live in a world devoid of sunlight, is taken from their floating carcasses, or from the belly of sperm whales.

Until 2005, no scientist had ever photographed a living giant squid. One hadn't been filmed until 2013. But scientists believe there are millions of them out there.

In June, a NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research expedition captured the first footage of a giant squid in American waters.

The New Yorker's David Grann wrote that giant squid can be "larger than a whale and stronger than an elephant, with a beak that can sever steel cables."

Here's what is known about the mysterious beast, and why so much is still not known.

Living 1,300 to 3,000 feet down in the ocean, giant squid inhabit the deepest, darkest places in the world. No one knows for sure how long they live for, how they find partners, how they migrate, where they lay their eggs, or even if they make any sounds. To put it bluntly, the giant squid remains a mystery.

Nhk/Nep/Discovery Channel/NHK/NEP/DISCOVERY CHANNEL/AFP

Wikimedia

Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group / Getty

Wikimedia

Wikimedia

Wikimedia

NTNU Museum of Natural History and Archaeology, 1954

The Asahi Shimbun / Getty

Day Donaldson/Flickr

Fernando Camino / Getty

Wikimedia

Ian Nicholson / PA images / Getty

Fernando Camino / Cover / Getty

Google Maps

National Science Museum / AP

Eriko Sugita / Reuters

Tsunemi Kubodera of the National Science Museum of Japan, HO/AP

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery / Simon Cuthbert / Handout / Reuters

Discovery Channel

Eric Risberg / AP

Discovery Channel

Alonso Gonzalez / Reuters

NOAA

Gerald Herbert/AP

Danté Fenolio/NOAA

Joe Armao / Fairfax Media / Getty

Fernando Camino / Cover / Getty

David Paul, Museum Victoria

Christophe Archambault / AFP / Getty

Mark Norman, Museum Victoria

Scott Cassell.

NOAA OER/Journey into Midnight/Photo by Danté Fenolio

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

John B. Carnett / Bonnier Corp. / Getty

William West / AFP / Getty