The first images of the human-shy giant squid in its natural habitat,filmed in the black depths of the Pacific Ocean, have been released.

Thesilvery, 9-foot-long mollusk - scientists said it could have been up to26 feet long if its two longest tentacles had not been severed - wasfilmed in July off Japan'sChichi island by a three-man crew from the National Museum of Nature and Science.The scientists followed the creature in their submersible to a depth ofmore than 2,700 feet as it vanished into the ocean darkness, whereoxygen is scarce and pressure is enormous.

Japanese broadcasterNHK showed footage Monday. The squid, with black eyes the size of dinnerplates, clutched a bait squid in its remaining arms as it swam againstthe current.

"It was shining and so beautiful," researcher Tsunemi Kubodera told AFP. "I was so thrilled."