NHK enlists team to track down giant squid

Multimillion-dollar doc titled 'Last Mystery of the Deep'

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CANNES -- Japanese broadcaster NHK has teamed with Discovery-owned Science Channel and Atlantic Prods. to mount an international quest to find and film a living giant squid, as part of a documentary "Squid: Last Mystery of the Deep," the companies said Tuesday.

The three companies will partner on a multiyear, multimillion-dollar co-production that hopes to locate and film the elusive creature in its natural habitat for the first time. So far scientists have filmed only glimpses of the notoriously reclusive creature, Architeuthis dux, which measures more than 30 feet long and has enormous tentacles equipped with serrated suckers and a razor-sharp beak.

NHK's executive managing director, Hidemi Hyuga, said the mission was the best hope of finding the creature.

"This is the start of a dream-come-true venture for NHK. We have long been in pursuit of the giant squid and have caught glimpses of it in the past 10 years, but we have never succeeded in filming it in its natural habitat," he said. Clark Bunting, president and GM of Discovery Emerging Networks, said the partners were looking for other broadcasters to come on board the project to fund the project, which will use customized submersible technology and a high-tech submersible ship to film in the deep.

"The research, technology and expertise brought together for this endeavor give us the best shot ever of finding and filming the giant squid in action, and we look forward to working with other broadcasters around the world on this important project," he said. Scheduled to air in 2012, the global production will result in a multipart special following the technological and scientific mission required to find and film the giant squid, in cooperation with marine biologist and giant squid expert Dr. Tsunemi Kubodera.

Kubodera led the 2006 research team that first filmed an ailing live giant squid that had come up to the surface of the sea. The program will also explore the other exotic and unusual beasts inhabiting this largely unexplored deep sea region, showcasing the ecosystem that has given rise to such creatures as the mega-mouth shark.