Scientists Capture Close-Up Footage of a Deep-Sea Transparent Glass Squid

Researchers on board the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer have captured gorgeous footage of what is known as a glass squid. While this creature isn’t rare, close-up views of it like this truly highlight its beauty.

Featured by Laughing Squid (no relation), the footage was captured in the twilight zone near the Semidi Islands of Alaska. The “twilight zone” is the area that lies between 200 and 1,000 meters (between about 650 and 3,300 feet) below the surface where light is present, but is quite dim, and the water temperatures can get quite cold. It is here that many creatures can light up the world around them through bioluminescence.

This Taonius borealis, or glass squid, was seen at a depth of 700 meters, or about 2,300 feet, during the first dive of the Seascape Alaska 3 expedition, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explains.

“The red organ in the center of the squid is its digestive gland, flanked on either side by two white, crescent-shaped organs that are the squid’s gills. Also visible below each eye are photophores, which are light-producing organs. The eye movements shown in the video are thought to be the squid blinking,” the NOAA says.

“This is a fairly common squid in these waters, but the close-up imagery captured here was anything but!”

The Seascape Alaska expedition started in May and will continue through October. The goal of Seascape Alaska 3, the third of four planned expeditions in the area, is working to fill some of the gaps in scientists’ understanding of the region by conducting focused mapping and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) operations, with a focus on waters deeper than 200 meters (656 feet) off the Aleutian Islands, NOAA explains.

NOAA Seascape Alaska
This map shows the general operating area off Alaska during the Seascape Alaska 3: Aleutians Remotely Operated Vehicle Exploration and Mapping expedition, with the approximate track of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer shown as a yellow line and proposed dive sites as white circles. | Map courtesy of NOAA Ocean Exploration, Seascape Alaska.

A trove of photos and videos captured during the Seascape Alaska expeditions has been uploaded both to the Ocean Explorer YouTube Channel and in a gallery on NOAA’s website.