Science / Trending

Scientists May Have Discovered New Species of Ghost-Like Octopus

Scientists are already calling a newly discovered species of octopus Casper, after the popular cartoon character “Casper the Friendly Ghost.” That’s because the heretofore unknown octopus, which was found on the Pacific Ocean floor in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands has a ghost-like appearance and seems almost devoid of musculature.

Michael Vecchione of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wrote a report concluding that the octopus “is almost certainly an undescribed species and may not belong to any described genus.” This would mean the creature is a brand new species that scientists have never encountered. The team of scientists, including Vecchione, who came across the octopus on February 27, found him at an astonishing depth of more than 4,000 meters. No other deep-sea octopus has ever been seen at such depths.

The octopod has suckers that are lined up in one series per arm, rather than in a double series that is normally seen in octopods. The creature has been described as quite pale, almost white, because it does not have pigment cells that other cephalopods have that give them color. The creature also does not have visible musculature, making it appear even stranger, wavering like a ghost. The lack of musculature could be explained by the lack of food sources that deep in the ocean. The octopus has two tiny eyes that so far appear to be fully functional. When the deep-sea ship neared Casper, he flittered away because of the ship’s strong lights.

The team has not published an article describing their findings yet, since the discovery is only weeks old. However, the depth record and unusual aspects of the octopus make it certain the team will publish a scholarly article in a scientific journal in the near future.

The octopus was discovered by accident, while scientists were collecting samples to figure out whether there is any compositional connection between Necker Island and Necker ridge. The ROV Deep Discoverer is an extraordinarily piece of equipment that explores sea depth remotely while scientists work above the water. ROV Deep Discoverer, known as D2, has nine video cameras and can go as deep as four miles under water. The D2 is the only U.S. Government ship dedicated solely to deep-sea exploration, and it is launched from the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.

It will take several months or even years before the octopus is officially named. In order for that to happen, Vecchione says he will need to obtain a specimen of it. That evaluation could be a long time in the making. In the meantime, the name Casper, or Ghost-opus, will probably stick.

5 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    WTF? That is really amazing

  2. Spock says:

    the ocean is truly the final frontier

  3. Duke says:

    Articles like this remind me there is so mcuh more we don’t know about the antural world

  4. Michelle Rollins says:

    can’t wait to learn more about them

  5. Lenny Wittlestein JR. says:

    Science is awesome.

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