A scuba diver, equipped with an underwater camera, recorded footage of a giant squid as it hung around Japan’s Toyoma Bay on Christmas Eve.

The deep-sea creatures are known to be elusive, but in this rare sighting, several onlookers captured incredible footage of its near-the-surface debut.

“This squid was not damaged and looked lively, spurting ink and trying to entangle his tentacles around me,” Akinobu Kimura told CNN. “I guided the squid toward to the ocean, several hundred meters from the area it was found in, and it disappeared into the deep sea.”

It’s difficult to tell exactly how long the creature is, but the shot of a diver next to the squid shows that it’s around the length of three humans. At approximately 13 feet long, it is a relatively small specimen. Scientists say that giant squids can grow up to 43 feet in length – and perhaps much larger.

An aquarium curator says this is the first sighting of a giant squid this season (November to March). It’s still not known why the squid ventured so far into the bay – an area shallow enough for a scuba diver to swim along with it.

The giant squid has a sophisticated nervous system and complex brain, attracting great interest from scientists. It also has the largest eyesof any living creature except perhaps the colossal squid – up to at least 11 inches in diameter, with a 3.5 inch pupil (only the extinct ichthyosaurs are known to have had larger eyes). Large eyes can better detect light (including bioluminescent light), which is scarce in deep water. The giant squid probably cannot see colour, but it can probably discern small differences in tone, which is important in the low-light conditions of the deep ocean.

Giant squid and some other large squid species maintain neutral buoyancy in seawater through an ammonium chloride solution which is found throughout their bodies and is lighter than seawater. This differs from the method of flotation used by most fish, which involves a gas-filled swim bladder. The solution tastes somewhat like salmiakki and makes giant squid unattractive for general human consumption.