Deep-sea scientists have photographed an incredibly rare, and eerily beautiful, ‘glass octopus’ during a ground-breaking expedition in the central Pacific Ocean.
Building upon a pioneering 2017 expedition, marine scientists aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute research vessel Falkor spent 34 days exploring the remote Phoenix Islands archipelago.
The team carried out high-resolution seafloor mapping of more than 30,000 square kilometres as well as camera exploration of five additional seamounts, in research described as ‘the most comprehensive study of deep sea coral and sponge ecosystems in this part of the world’.
Check out footage of the surreal looking creature below:
Expedition Chief Scientist Dr. Randi Rotjan of Boston University said:
It has been very inspiring to help document the biodiversity of unexplored seamounts on the high seas and in U.S. waters.
We’re at the beginning of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, so now is the time to think about conservation broadly across all oceanscapes, and the maps, footage, and data we have collected will hopefully help to inform policy and management in decision making around new high seas protected areas.
Among other notable findings, scientists made two sightings of this extraordinarily rare, and almost completely transparent, octopus, an animal with just three visible features: the optic nerve, eyeballs and digestive tract.
Prior to this expedition, live footage of this octopus has been scarce, meaning scientists have had to mostly learn about the species through the study of specimens discovered in the gut contents of ocean predators.
Schmidt Ocean Institute
Dr. Jyotika Virmani, executive director of Schmidt Ocean Institute, said:
Working with scientists and local researchers, this expedition is a remarkable example of the frontiers of science and exploration that we are able to support.
Live-streaming the dives gives us a glimpse of rarely seen and fascinating creatures such as the transparent glass octopus.
By providing this platform to further the understanding of our ocean, we trigger the imagination while helping to push forward scientific insights and the protection of our underwater world.
It’s hoped these findings will help define the origins of adaptive immunity within multicellular animals, a development that chould assist with modern medical research in fields such as cancer immunotherapies, drug delivery and enhanced vaccine efficacy.