Scientists have discovered a bizarre octopod off the coast of Hawaii that is almost certainly a new species.
Researchers studying the ocean floor off the coast of Hawaii have made a stunning discovery. According to a report from NPR, researchers working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were scanning the sea bed with a remotely operated vehicle, or ROV, called Deep Discoverer when they came across a tiny, ghost-like octopod.
Scientists couldn’t believe their eyes at first, but the creature was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before. This is the only specimen found so far, but researchers are confident that the creature may belong to a species that has yet to be described.
The Deep Discoverer ROV was originally on a research mission to gather rock samples from the ocean floor, but the octopod quickly stole the show as it peered through the camera’s lens. According to NOAA researcher Michael Vecchione, the octopod was spotted sitting in the middle of a flat rock covered with a light blanket of sediment. “The appearance of this animal was unlike any published records and was the deepest observation ever for this type of cephalopod,” he said.
The creature was likely an incirrate octopod, which lack the fins between their arms and tiny appendages that almost resemble fingers at the ends of their tentacles that characterize cirrate octopods. Cirrate octopods have been spotted at depths of 5,000 feet, but incirrate octopods have never been reported deeper than 4,000 meters. The discovery took place at a depth of 4,290 feet.
Vecchione says that the animal had suckers aligned in one series on each arm, as opposed to the usual two. The animal had no pigment in its skin either, lacking the chromatophores that characterize cephalopod colorings. The octopod appeared to be ghostlike and delicate. Already, social media fans of the octopod have given him the informal name of Casper.
“It is almost certainly an undescribed species and may not belong to any described genus,” wrote Vecchione.
A news release from the NOAA describing the mission that led to the discovery can be found here.