A pale white octopus was moving in the dark sea when it approached the view of a remote operated submarine vehicle (ROV) of a research vessel called Hercules.
The incredible video captured of the seemingly friendly and small eight-legged ghost elicited shouts of joy and admiration from the team behind the camera on the E / V Nautilus, who immediately identified the animal as a rare dumbo octopus (Grimpoteuthis sp.).
"Oh, and the world loves a fool," said one of the team members on October 23 when the video was captured. [Gallery: Cutest Creatures from Deep Sea Canyons]
The lovely creature calmly fluttered its two large fins as it sailed slowly through the darkness. After a few seconds, the octopus opened its tentacles in an elegant display, revealing its umbrella of legs with eight rows of shoots.
"Yes, it's a show-off," said one team member. "You're going to be famous," said another. Both were true affirmations, of course, because who can resist such a lovely cephalopod?
The soft Dumbo octopus, also known as umbrella octopus, is named for its ear-like fins that resemble the oversized elephant ears of Dumbo, the Disney character. There are 13 species of dumbo octopuses, and most of them live at depths of less than 9,800 feet (3,000 meters). They are one of the rarest species of octopus, so glimpse this is quite extraordinary.
The team used scale lasers on the ROV to estimate that this particular deepwater ghost was just under 2 feet (60 centimeters) long, which is a bit larger than most dumbo octopuses.
The Nautilus research vessel is financed and operated by Ocean Exploration Trust, a non-profit organization founded in 2008 by Robert Ballard. Ballard, an ocean explorer and National Geographic explorer in residence, is best known for finding the sunken remains of the Titanic RMS.
The objective of the E / V Nautilus is purely to carry out a scientific exploration of the ocean floor. The group is now in its fourth year of ocean exploration.
For the past two weeks, the Nautilus has been working with the National Marine Sanctuary of Monterey Bay to explore an inactive, deep-water volcanic mountain range called the Davidson Submarine. The area is about 80 miles (129 kilometers) southwest of Monterey, California, and has been dubbed the "oasis of the deep", as it houses a variety of deep-water corals, sponges and many other invertebrates. But some points in the region remain unexplored, and that's where the Nautilus has been sending its ROVs.
Only a few days after seeing the elegant dumbo octopus, Hercules came across a huge nest of octopuses, where more than a thousand octopuses of deep water huddled on the rocks with their eggs.
Find more amazing photos and videos of octapalooza at Davidson Seamount on the Nautilus Live website.
Originally published in Living science.