Newly discovered octopus looks like adorable ghost

By Rachel Feltman

The appearance of this animal was unlike any published records, say scientists. Photo / Washington Post
The appearance of this animal was unlike any published records, say scientists. Photo / Washington Post

Move over, Casper: A cute lil octopod hitherto unknown to science was caught on camera by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and it's definitely the friendliest looking ghost we've ever seen.

The tiny octopod was spotted just northeast of Necker Island (Mokumanamana) in the Hawaiian Archipelago on February 27, when NOAA's ship the Okeanos Explorer made its first expedition of the year. The ship's remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was surveying the area's wildlife when it came across the octopod over 2.5 miles below the water's surface.

"The appearance of this animal was unlike any published records and was the deepest observation ever for this type of cephalopod," NOAA scientist Michael Vecchione wrote on the agency's website. The octopod, which lacks pigment and seems less muscular than most, is almost certainly a new species. It may even need its own new genus as well. On the video taken during the ROV encounter, you can hear several scientists exclaiming over the novelty of the creature.

Vecchione believes this little octopod may live in record-breaking depths. Cirrate octopods, also known as dumbo or finned octopods, have been found over three miles below the ocean's surface. But Vecchione believes this particular deep-sea critter is actually from the suborder Incirrina - which includes the family of the common octopus itself.

Cirrate octopods have a pair of fins on their head (the wiggly, adorable "ears" found on some deep-sea octopods), which the new species seems to lack. They also have filaments called cirri paired up with their suckers (which is how they get their name), and the new species doesn't appear to have those either.

If the new species really is from Incirrina, it suggests that members of that suborder may live deeper in the ocean than we'd thought. It serves as a fresh reminder of how little we know about octopods and their ilk - and how little we know about the depths of our own planet's ocean.

- Washington Post

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