Scientists from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have discovered what they believe could be a new species of octopus. The new species dubbed “ghost octopus” is a good reminder of how little we have explored creatures roaming around Earth and within its mysterious waters.
According to Apex Tribune, the Deep Discoverer underwater vehicle aided the NOAA in finding the animal while the team was searching the Pacific Ocean close to the Hawaiian Islands. Michael Vecchione of the NOAA said that on Feb. 27, a team of researchers found the unnamed octopus in the ocean near Necker Island.
The zoologist at NOAA Fisheries’ National Systematics Laboratory said this is the deepest record for an octopus. The 4 to 4.7 inches big octopus was found at a depth of about 2.5 miles deep near the Hawaiian Archipelago. Its mantle is suggested to be around 2 inches (5 cm).
Since the team had no real life specimen within their hands, the underwater vehicle had to make the measurements. The Deep Discoverer comprises a system that uses two lasers roughly 4 inches apart. The system helps in determining the size of marine animals.
Such octopuses have no finger-like structures near the suckers or fins on the sides. That structure is more common among octopuses found in shallow waters. “It is unusual to see an octopus without fins so deep in the ocean,” said Vecchione. In past studies, the depth at which octopus without fins was found was usually less than 2.5 miles.
Fins are better suited for deep water environments because of the low energy cost in comparison to jet propulsion. Researchers do not have much details about the species except that it is a new Octopod with naturally light skin and pigmented eyes, Star-Advertiser reported.
The lack of pigment on the octopus is common among species that dwell in deep water environments. Vecchione firmly declared that the octopus is not an albino, implying that its color is not the result of a biological condition. The researchers noted that the marine animal did not look muscular, which could have resulted in its ghost-like, almost transparent appearance.
Social media has been buzzing with news and images of the friendly looking octopus. In a statement posted on the NOAA website last week, viewers named the octopus Casper, after the famous cartoon ghost, RRT reported.
Scientists are, however, reluctant to offer the new creature an official name pointing to the fact that they do not have more information about the octopus than what is seen in the video recorded.
When asked about its age or diet, Vecchione said it is impossible to know based on just simple images. The researchers have no plans of making other assumptions or even giving the creature a name until they have a specimen in hand.
By Pater Greenman
Photo Courtesy NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research