East Hawaii News

New ‘Ghost-Like’ Octopus Species Located off Hawai’i

March 7, 2016, 3:51 PM HST
* Updated March 7, 4:12 PM
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Is it possible that the first operational dive of Okeanos Explorer’s 2016 season came across the discovery of a new octopod? National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist believe so.

On Feb. 27, during the first dive of the 2016 season, depths of over 4,000 meters northeast of Necker Island in the Hawaiian Archipelago were explored.

The dive was to collect baseline information and a potential connection between Necker Island and Necker Ridge, collecting samples to determine if they have the same composition.

During the dive, however, ROV Deep Discoverer also surveyed biological communities.

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According to NOAA’s Michael Vecchione, the ROV was traversing a flat area of rock interspersed with sediments at 4,290 meters when it came across an octopod sitting on a flat rock dusted with a light coat of sediment.

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The animal didn’t appear to be very muscular and lacked pigment cell, causing it to appear “ghost-like,” according to Vecchione, who also noted that the octopod was “unlike any published records and was the deepest observation ever for this type of cephalopod.”

The octopod is believed to be a member of the incirte octopods. These octopods lack fins and cirri. They are also similar in appearance to shallow water Octopus.

Cirrate octopods have been reported in depths of over 5,000 meters. However, the deepest published reports for incirrates are all less than 4,000 meters.

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“After seeing this observation, I contacted my colleagues Louise Allcock (currently on a British ship near Antarctica) and Uwe Piatkowski (from Germany) and they agreed that this is something unusual and is a depth record for the incirrate octopods,” Vecchinoe wrote on the NOAA website. “We are now considering combining this observation with some other very deep incirrate observations by a German cruise in the eastern Pacific into a manuscript for publication in the scientific literature.”

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