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ENVIRONMENT REPORT- January 4, 2002: Mystery Squid - 2002-01-03

This is the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

Scientists have discovered a strange new kind of squid deep in the world’s oceans.

Scientists reported seeing the sea creatures in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans and in the Gulf of Mexico. They say they have never seen anything like the mystery squid before.

Evidence of the squid comes from pictures and video images taken by eight independent scientists in four countries. The scientists took the pictures from inside deep-water submarines. The deepest sighting was made almost five kilometers below the surface of the ocean, in the western Atlantic near the coast of Brazil.

The mystery squid is about seven meters long. Most squids have two long tentacles and eight shorter arms. The new squid, however, has ten arms that are extremely long, about six meters. Its arms are longer than those of any known squid species.

The squid’s arms are held in an unusual position. They spread out a short distance from the body, then bend down sharply. The rest of the arms flow behind the squid as it swims.

Scientists also say the squid’s arms are sticky. The scientists discovered this when a squid became stuck to the submarine while they were filming. Scientists believe the squid may use its long, sticky arms to trap food.

The mystery squid also has two huge fins that stick out from its small head. The fins look like two giant elephant ears that appear to help the animal swim through the water.

Scientists have not captured the animal. So they could not tell how much the squid weighs. However, they say it has a very small body, unlike that of the giant squid.

Michael Vecchione [VECK-ee-own] is a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He wrote about the mystery squid in Science magazine. He said the discovery shows how little researchers know about life deep in the world’s oceans.

Areas of deep water make up more than ninety percent of the living space on Earth. However, scientists do not know much about deep sea areas. That is because these areas are difficult, dangerous and costly to explore. The mystery squids were discovered accidentally by scientists or oil company workers looking for something else at the bottom of the ocean.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written by Cynthia Kirk.