Giant squid scientist talks mysterious deep-ocean discovery

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CBS News

Posted on January 23, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 23 at 11:24 AM

(CBS News) For the first time, scientists recently captured images of the mysterious giant squid in their natural habitat off the coast of Japan.

Edith Widder, oceanographer and marine biologist, who was involved in the expedition, said on "CBS This Morning" the breakthrough could be the beginning of many discoveries of the ocean's depths.

She said, "It's been said that we know more about the moon's behind than the ocean's bottom, and we've explored only 5 percent of our ocean's bottom. Look what's down there. ... We know so little. ... There could be cures for cancer. The Nobel Prize in 2008 was awarded for a chemical extracted from a bio-luminescent jellyfish and that's discovery has been equated to the invention of the microscope in terms of the impact it's had on science. So how do we even know? And we've spent billions on exploring outer space and only millions on exploring the deep ocean. ... I think that there will be new discoveries so long as we have the opportunity to go out with ships and submersibles."

Widder said people have been trying to catch a glimpse of the giant squid alive in their natural habitat for a long time, and in the past 50 years have made many attempts. This is the first time it's succeeded. She attributes the success to the method used by her team.

"Unfortunately, we do go out with remote-operated vehicles that do scare them away, but the submersibles and the camera system I was using are unobtrusive and I think that will allow us to see a whole lot more. ... We were exploring in a different way than ever before," she said. "In the past we were scaring them away. (Our team) used a red light that they can't see and an optical lure to draw them in towards us."

Widder said she hopes the discovery "will help people feel different about the ocean, in general."

Watch Widder's full "CTM" appearance in the video above.

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