The species is fondly known as the “dumbo” octopus, named after Dumbo the flying elephant for the large, floppy, ear-like fins on the side of its head.
It was spotted on Sept. 13 by a remotely operated research vessel. According to the NPR post, the octopus was found on a seamount — which are cone-shaped underwater land formations that are remnants of old volcanoes — in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the northwestern Hawaiian islands.
They’re rarely spotted, living at such low depths, and Live Science reported that even researchers were thrilled to see it on the livestream: “Oh, look at the flappy ears!” said one, along with another who added, “I’ve never seen one before.”
Researchers aren’t sure which of the 15 species of dumbo octopus this particular one is, but many have two unique features in common — their “dumbo” fins and their surprising lack of an ink sac, one of the commonly known features of octopuses.
Dumbo octopuses don’t need ink sacs because they live so far below the surface that it’s incredibly dark anyway — the ink sacs wouldn’t do them any good. They use their dumbo fins to move through the water as well as a unique internal organ called a siphon, which shoots out jets of water to propel the octopus.
For scientists and ocean lovers alike (and maybe those who are freaked out by the ocean and want to know what’s down there), discovering new species is fascinating and exciting.
From a conservation standpoint, finding any new species or subspecies leads to increased information about the animal. This means there will be a better understanding of its role in the ecosystem, the challenges it may face, and how to help if it becomes endangered.
Viewers of NPR’s post were entertained and fascinated with the funny-looking sea creature.
“This is what I want to be for Halloween,” joked one user, while another pointed out how stunning the find really is. “This is why I don’t understand the fascination with aliens,” they wrote. “We’ve already got some pretty strange and beautiful creatures roaming the Earth and sea.”
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