Japanese researchers have filmed the elusive giant squid in its natural deep-sea habitat for the first time.

The three-metre long ocean giant, which has long inspired monstrous tales of sea-faring horror, was captured drifting 2,000ft below the Pacific's surface, 620 miles south of Japan.

A team from Japan's Natural Science Museum, funded by the Discovery Channel, spent 400 hours tracking the squid in a submarine last July.

Japanese zoologist Tsunemi Kubodera said: "Many people have tried to capture an image of a giant squid alive in its natural habitat..but they all failed.

"These are the first ever images of a real live giant squid."

The creatures are naturally solitary animals.

Kubodera said: "When I saw it, well it looked to me like it was rather lonely."