Giant oarfish over four meters in length and giant squid with massive tentacles... Deep-sea creatures whose biology is still cloaked in mystery have been found one after another along the coast of the Japan Sea since the beginning of the year.
Experts believe that a change in sea temperature has had some kind of effect, but the cause remains unknown.
A surprising encounter
"It was weak but still alive. It spewed water as if exhaling heavily," Yuji Kawaguchi, 65, a fisherman in Sado, Niigata Prefecture, related his surprising encounter with the giant squid that got caught in his fixed fishing net about 330 meters off the coast of Ryotsu Bay, Sado Island, in late March.
The giant squid was approximately 4.5 meters in length and weighed 33 kilograms.
A total of eight giant squids have been found in waters off Niigata Prefecture this year.
According to a local curator, only about 11 giant squids have been identified over the five decades until last year and this year has been exceptional. Giant squids were also captured in neighbouring Toyama Prefecture in early April.
And it's not just giant squids. A 2.61-meter razorback scabbardfish was caught in a fixed fishing net in early March in Toyama Bay, off the coast of Itoigawa, Niigata Prefecture.
According to the Uozu Aquarium in Toyama Prefecture, razorback scabbardfish have not been found in the bay since 1990.
Three scalloped ribbonfish of a type not caught for nearly 20 years in To-yama Bay were also found this year.
Even deep-water fish, such as giant oarfish and slender ribbonfish, have been found in various locations.