Extraordinary video surfaced on the NOAA Ocean Explorer YouTube channel showing the peculiar dumbo octopus doing what scientists have never seen it do before.
"It has coiled its arms into tight spirals," said Mike Vecchione of the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service."I have seen many, many photos and videos of cirrate octopods [aka dumbo octopus] and seen them do a variety of postures with their arms, but I have never seen one spiral its arms like this."
The dumbo octopus looks more like a lunar lander flying through space than any kind of octopus.
"This is a good example of the fact that every time we get a chance to explore the deep sea, we find something new and unexpected," Vecchione said.
This is what they saw:
The rare footage was taken during the third leg of a 59-day expedition in the Gulf of Mexico aboard the NOAA ship "Okeanos Explorer." "Deep Discoverer," a remotely operated vehicle, began at 7,200 feet and progressed up a vertical rock ledge to 6,430 feet, and somewhere along the way it spotted the dumbo octopus.
"Probably the most photogenic animal seen during the entire cruise was [the dumbo octopus]," Vecchione said. "As you can see in the image, the common name comes from the fins on the sides of the body, reminiscent of the large ears on the flying elephant in the Disney cartoon."
The expedition also came across a rare yellow ctenophore, a marine animal superficially resembling a jellyfish. NOAA said, "It was later identified as Lampocteis cruentiventer, a ctenophore that comes in a variety of body colors and pigments but all have a blood red gut."
Here are a few more photos from the expeditions, including an unidentified jellyfish:
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