A routine deep-sea dive for samples led to the exciting discovery of a new species
As the deep-sea submarine traversed a flat area of rock at a depth of 4,290 metres (14,074 feet), on a dive to collect geological samples in the Hawaiian Archipelago, an amazing accidental discovery was made.
The remotely operated vehicle (ROV) came across a deep-sea octopod. This little bizarre ghost-like little creature was found sitting on a rock surrounded by sediment. The octopod appears to be a member of the incirrate octopods, which are characterised by their lack of fins and cirri and look similar to the common shallow-water octopus.
The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) says on its website: “This animal was particularly unusual because it lacked the pigment cells, called chromatophores, typical of most cephalopods, and it did not seem very muscular. This resulted in a ghostlike appearance, leading to a comment on social media that it should be called Casper, like the friendly cartoon ghost. It is almost certainly an undescribed species and may not belong to any described genus.” Not only is this a first sighting for the species, but also a new depth record as all other incirrate sightings have all been reported at less than 4,000 metres.
As expected, the discovery caused some excitement between the crew with one remarking: “In the immortal words of Taylor swift ‘they have never, like ever’ seen that one. I know somebody who’s going to be really interested in this image.” To which one replies: “This octopus is now confusing several of our shore based scientist who have never seen anything like this.”
You can watch the video of the discovery and hear the crew here:
Images from NOAA, original press release here
Image from www.flickr.com/photos/stuutje