The first operational dive of Okeanos Explorer’s 2016 season got off to a frightful start. At the end of February, NOAA’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Deep Discoverer dove 2 1/2 miles underwater to collect geological samples near Hawaii. While surveying the area, scientists were shocked to see a wispy white ghost-like octopod dance into view.
— NOAA Ocean Explorer (@oceanexplorer) March 3, 2016
The appearance of this animal was unlike any published records and was the deepest observation ever for this type of cephalopod.
According to NOAA, deep-sea octopods are easily separated into two distinct groups:
- (1) the cirrate, or finned, octopods (also known as “dumbo” octopods), characterized by fins on the sides of their bodies and fingerlike cirri associated with the suckers on their arms
- (2) incirrate octopods, which lack both fins and cirri and are similar in appearance to common shallow-water Octopus
The octopod spotted by the ROV was a member of the second group, the incirrates. What makes this species unusual is that it lacks pigment cells called chromatophores, giving it its spooky appearance, and it isn’t very ‘muscular.’ Casper the wimpy ghost! 👻
The haunting image below captures the moment the unique cephalopod appeared from the deep. Scientist believe it is almost certainly an undescribed species and may not belong to any described genus.
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