Researchers with the Ocean Exploration Trust were exploring the ocean floor of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument when they found it
A livestream of a deep sea expedition caught a ghostly looking creature on video ahead of Halloween — the rare "Dumbo" octopus.
The marine animal was captured on an E/VNautilus video live stream by the Ocean Exploration Trust as its deep sea submersibles explored the seafloor of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, the largest marine protected area in the U.S. covering over 1.5 million square kilometers.
The octopus could be seen floating into view of the team’s ROV Atalanta’s camera as it hovered about 5,518 feet (1,682 meters) deep below sea level in an unnamed seamount in the PMNM area.
As the creature comes into view on the video, the submersible's navigators could be heard exclaiming, “Wow!” One researcher added, “I’m glad we got to see a live one.” Another one drew attention to the octopus’ “flappy ears.”
They noted that the octopus looked “very white” in the video and said it could be because of the contrast of the bright light from their technology hitting the animal despite its “completely blue background.”
The deep-sea octopus with large ear-like fins protruding from its head — whose name was inspired after Disney’s Dumbo due to its similarities to the elephant— appeared to use those fins to glide across the water.
One of the researchers noted that the motion of the octopus was “so graceful,” especially as it moved in “slow motion” across the cameras. "That is a wonderful view,” another researcher added.
Dumbo octopuses are known to be the deepest-living of all known octopuses, residing at least 13,100 feet (4,000 meters) below the surface, according to Oceana’s Marine Life Encyclopedia.
The creatures often use their ear-like fins to propel themselves through the water and their arms to steer themselves in the ocean. Unlike other octopuses, they do not have an ink sac because they “rarely” encounter predators in the deep sea.
The Dumbo octopus captured on camera had another rare quality — it was larger than most of its species. The Ocean Exploration Trust told Insider that the creature was about 2 feet long, much larger than its average size of 6-12 inches in length.
Though it is by no means the largest ever found, as the largest recorded was 6 feet and 32 inches and weighed 13 lbs., according to the Aquarium of the Pacific.
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The expedition is set to continue its exploration of the ocean floor with the focus of exploring “the geology and biology of unexplored seamounts” as well as locating “several historically-significant shipwrecks associated with the Battle of Midway.”
Livestreams of the missions can be found on the Nautilus website.
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