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Rare ‘Dumbo’ octopus gives scientists a show near the ocean floor

Mike Wehner

Scientists hoping to study creatures that live near the bottom of Earth’s oceans have many difficult hurdles to overcome. You can’t just swim down there on your own, so exploring the ocean floor has to be done with extremely durable robotic vehicles that require the effort of an entire team. The payoff, however, is often worth the trouble.

In a new video by the crew of the E/V Nautilus, an extremely rare “Dumbo” octopus is seen mugging for the camera. The images were captured by the remote-operated robotic vehicle Hercules, which endures the crushing water pressure to deliver glimpses of ocean depths that would instantly kill a human.


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The video is quite extraordinary, and you can tell by the excitement of the scientists just how special the sighting is. The octopus in this case measures nearly two feet in length, which is on the larger side, as most dumbo specimens found by scientists are quite tiny. This one does plenty of showing off for the camera as it slowly pushes itself along in the dark water near the ocean floor.

The creature looks a bit like a torpedo with wings as it slips through the water, but takes a moment to stretch its arms and push forward before the rover operators are forced to move on to a new area. It’s an awesome glimpse at a creature that, if not for modern technology, we might not even know exists.

The Nautilus crew broadcast 24 hours a day, though much of that time is spent on the ocean surface as the ship travels to new locations or the crew rests. Whenever the team is ready to send down its rover to explore the sea floor, the cameras switch and everyone is invited to explore along with the scientists. It’s pretty awesome, and the team regularly comes across some very interesting sights.

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See the original version of this article on BGR.com