Deep in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of California, marine scientists have been lucky enough to capture a rare and wonderful sight: a sweet Dumbo octopus going about its business.
They’re absolutely adorable, but unfortunately we don’t tend to spot Dumbo octopuses (Grimpoteuthis) often; they live deep below the surface of the ocean, where humans seldom venture.
Lucky for us, the E/V Nautilus crew are able to plumb those depths with the help of remotely operated underwater vehicles, such as ROV Hercules.
Their current expedition is a survey of the Davidson Seamount, an extinct volcano in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
As they were patrolling a previously unexplored rocky outcropping on the southeast side of the seamount, our little buddy drifted into view.
“Oh my god is that the little Dumbo?” one scientist said, quickly followed by an adoring chorus of “Dumbo!” “Oh my gosh!” “So cool!” and “Woooooowwwww.”
The footage, shot by ROV Hercules’ high-resolution camera, shows extraordinary detail of the cephalopod as it twists and turns, rippling its mantle, flipping over, and flapping the fins on the sides of its head, so similar to the ears of Disney’s cartoon elephant Dumbo.
Most species of Dumbo octopus are a lot smaller than this one, who was around 60 centimetres (1.97 feet) long.
Usually, they come in at around 20-30 centimetres (7.9-12 inches), although one unusual specimen was clocked at nearly 1.8 metres (6 feet) in length.
The 3.2-kilometre-deep (2 miles) region in which the octopus was spotted is what is known as an oasis, a sort of deep-sea garden lush with corals and sponges.
It’s also teeming with octopuses – a few days after spotting Dumbo, the E/V Nautilus crew found a whole garden of brooding Muusoctopus robustus tucked into rocks protecting their eggs.
Honestly, we can’t wait to see what else their tech will capture in the dark depths.