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Scientists Find New Ghost-like Creature Deep in Pacific

Published 03/06/2016 at 5:51 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Ghostly Octopod photo courtesy NOAA

(Honolulu, Hawaii) – It may not have been the Oregon coast, and instead the Hawaiian coastline that can take the credit: but it's the same Pacific Ocean. A seriously striking creature was discovered by NOAA scientists, apparently a new, undocumented species of octpod (related to octopuses). As if that wasn't enough, it was discovered far deeper than any octopd of its kind. (Ghostly Octopod photo courtesy NOAA).

The discovery was made by NOAA scientist Michael Vecchione on February 27, at a depth of 4,290 meters – about 2.6 miles down. It was the first dive of the season for an ROV explorer drone called Deep Discoverer, with the intent of collecting geological samples from what is known as the Northeastern Pacific Ridge, near Hawaii.

Vecchione said on NOAA's website the ROV then came across this surreal but beautiful ghost-like creature.

“As the ROV was traversing a flat area of rock interspersed with sediment at 4,290 meters, it came across a remarkable little octopod sitting on a flat rock dusted with a light coat of sediment. The appearance of this animal was unlike any published records and was the deepest observation ever for this type of cephalopod.”

Vecchione said this is apparently new creature is a form of incirrate octopod, which means it does not have fins and it resembles the shallow-water octopuses found off the Oregon coast.

The creature was also slightly unusual because it had one (not two) sucker on each arm. But what really made it a weird find was its ghost-like appearance, which comes from not having any pigment cells, Vecchione said. It also did not appear to be very muscular.

This kind of octopod was found about two hundred meters lower than others, so far.

It's highly unlikely such a creature would exist off the Oregon coast since the water environment is much colder here than near Hawaii. There are three places to see octopuses in this region: Newport's Hatfield Marine Science Center and the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, and at the Seaside Aquarium on the north coast.

Below: the ROV Deep Discoverer approaches the new, freaky find at over two miles down.

Below: more about Oregon coast science and the coast in general.

Octopus at Seaside Aquarium (above). Photo courtesy Tiffany Boothe

Above: Octopus from the Hatfield at the OctoCam.


The Octopus Tree near Oceanside

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