Unveiling the Ghost of the Deep Sea: Scientists Encounter Rare ‘Dumbo’ Octopus in Hawaiian Expedition
As Halloween approaches, scientists off the coast of Hawaii have had a thrilling encounter with a rare deep-sea creature, striking an eerie note perfect for the season. During the Ala ‘Aumoana Kai Uli expedition, researchers unveiled a fascinating discovery within the depths of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.
Their ghostly encounter? A Dumbo octopus, so named for its resemblance to Disney’s famous elephant character. This cephalopod, known for the large ear-like fins on its mantle, was caught on camera, its form reflecting the light of the team’s technology to give it an ethereal glow.
Hovering above a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) owned by the Ocean Exploration Trust, the octopus was discovered nearly a mile below the Pacific Ocean’s surface. The creature chose an opportune moment to present itself, hovering directly in front of the ROV’s camera and offering researchers a stunning opportunity to capture images and video.
The Dumbo octopus, a resident of extreme depths and known as the deepest-living octopuses, was seen on an unnamed seamount in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, northwest of Hawaii. Video footage was captured by the Ocean Exploration Trust and NOAA, contributing to their ongoing mission to gather urgent data needed to address local management and science needs of the area.
The diet of this deep-sea dweller consists primarily of snails, worms, and other creatures living near the ocean floor. Rarely seen, the Dumbo octopus has captured the imagination and adoration of ocean enthusiasts. Its graceful, adorable, ghostly, and beautiful attributes make it a mesmerizing sight.
The Exploration Vessel Nautilus captured enchanting footage of the small, multi-armed animal through the eyes of a remotely operated vehicle, capable of scanning the ocean depths. The octopus was spotted 5,518 feet deep in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, the largest contiguous fully protected conservation area in the US.
The Nautilus, operated by the nonprofit Ocean Exploration Trust, is concluding its Ala ʻAumoana Kai Uli expedition. This month-long exploration of previously unseen deep-sea areas has involved seafloor mapping operations, remotely operated vehicle dives, and studies of the area’s geologic history, wildlife, and cultural resources.
The dark reaches of the ocean are often seen as a foreboding place, but the presence of this cartoon-like octopus adds a touch of friendly wonder. As scientists continue to explore these depths, the awe-inspiring discovery of the Dumbo octopus serves as a reminder that our ocean is indeed a world of wonders.