NECKER ISLAND, HAWAII – Some folks are calling him Casper. And this octopod does bear a certain resemblance to the friendly cartoon ghost.
A pale, white billowy body with two black eyes will do that.
Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration found the little creature northwest of Hawaii, near Necker Island, while filming with a remotely operated vehicle.
“It is almost certainly an undescribed species and may not belong to any described genus, said Michael Vecchione with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service.
Octopods and octopuses are both members of the octopoda family, but are not the same thing.
Beside likely being a member of a newfound species, this octopod is unique for another reason.
It is the deepest dwelling incirrate, or unfinned, octopod ever found. The remotely operated vehicle was cruising the ocean floor more than 14,000 feet (4,290 meters) below the surface.
“Cirrate octopods have been reported to depth of over 5,000 meters,” Vecchione said, referring to octopods that do have fins. “However, the deepest published reports for incirrates are all less than 4,000 meters.”
Scientists, far from being spooked by Casper’s appearance, are downright excited. Vecchione and his colleagues are considering putting their observations into a manuscript for publication in scientific literature.
From what we can see, they stand more than a ghost of a chance.