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Found: Tiny Ghost Octopus

Almost definitely a new species.

Hello, octopus (Photo: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016)

Late in February, the Okeanos Explorer made the season’s first dive, almost 2.5 miles down into the ocean, northeast of Hawaii’s Necker Island. Down in the depths, the Explorer’s remotely operated vehicle happened upon “a remarkable little octopod sitting on a flat rock,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports. It was small, ghost-like and almost definitely a species that no scientist had ever seen before.

This little octopus was distinguished by its lack of fins and the finger-like cirri on its arms: that makes it an incirrate octopus, and one of those has never been seen this far down in the ocean before. This particular octopus had no pigment and showed only one series of suckers on its legs. Also, the NOAA scientists noted, “it did not seem very muscular.” 

When the scientists back on shore saw the image of the little ghostly octopus, they immediately thought they may have found something new. “I have never, ever seen that one,” one said. 

Every day, we highlight one newly found object, curiosity or wonder. Discover something amazing? Tell us about it! Send your finds to [email protected]