It’s not often that rare, deep-sea creatures present themselves to scientists in plain sight. But in a video captured last month during Nautilus Live, a five-month expedition that’s mapping and documenting seafloor ecosystems around the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, an elusive dumbo octopus in the Gulf delighted scientists when it swam right in front of their remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Fortunately, the scientists caught this species on film to share with the public.
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“Lots of times you’ll just see a glimpse of a dumbo octopus or one will go by. To be able to focus on it like this and stay with it is really exceptional,” said one of the scientists aboard the Nautilus Live expedition.
Dumbo octopuses are found worldwide and are the deepest-living octopus species, living on the seafloor from depths around 9,000 to 13,000 feet, according to the Aquarium of the Pacific. They’re aptly-named for their ear-like structures near their eyes, which are actually fins used for propulsion. Most dumbo octopuses typically grow to just a foot in length, but scientists aboard the E/V Nautilus used a laser beam to estimate this particular octopus to be over three feet long—making this dumbo incredibly unique.