Scientists have found a delightful surprise 14,000 feet under the sea. This little octopod belongs to a species that has never been recorded before, and he’s also hanging out way deeper than any of his known cousins.
Footage of the creature was captured by the Okeanos Explorer, one of NOAA’s ocean research vessels. The Deep Discoverer remote operated vehicle came across this guy a week ago at the bottom of the ocean off the coast of Necker Island, Hawaii.
You can hear the excitement of the scientists as they watch the video feed and try to decipher what it might be:
“Beautiful — I’m not sure — different from the two we got on video last year,” says one.
“I have never, like ever, seen that one,” says another.
What makes this creature different and special is its lack of pigmentation and musculature, which gives the ghost-like appearance. There are two major groups of octopus, the cirrate and the incirrate, and this one is in the latter group. While cirrates have been reported to depths greater than 16,000 feet, this is the first time an incirrate has been spotted deeper than 13,000 feet.
“After seeing this observation, I contacted my colleagues Louise Allcock (currently on a British ship near Antarctica) and Uwe Piatkowski (from Germany) and they agreed that this is something unusual and is a depth record for the incirrate octopods,” writes NOAA zoologist Michael Vecchione in a mission log.
“We are now considering combining this observation with some other very deep incirrate observations by a German cruise in the eastern Pacific into a manuscript for publication in the scientific literature.”