On this episode of Species Tuesday, we present all the information we know about a potentially new species, or even a new genus, of octopus observed last week in the Pacific. This octopus, nicknamed “Ghostopus” (not created but encouraged by SUFB), was seen about 2.5 miles beneath the sea surface off the coast of Hawaii. Though the image of this species was first released on March 2nd, researchers are already eager to learn more about this curious cephalopod.
Most strikingly, this octopus seems almost translucent. Many octopuses and other cephalopods have what are called chromatophores, or cells that control the physical appearance and skin color of these invertebrates. It appears that this ghostopus lacks chromatophores and pigment altogether, which may not be all that surprising when you consider its habitat. Light doesn’t penetrate the ocean below about 1,000 meters, so it may not make sense to develop some awesome patterns when no one can see your style.
This octopus is also unique in that it’s the deepest account of an incirrate octopod ever recorded. Incirrate octopods aren’t just the newest punk rock band out of your neighbor’s garage, they also refer to octopuses that lack any fin-like structures on their head. Up until this point, all deep sea octopods were members of the suborder Cirrina, and all of them had some head accessories. Ghostopus breaks new ground for Incirrina as the deepest-recorded octopus that does not posses fins.
This octopus also seems to lack much muscle, being mostly gelatinous and come on it’s been one week and we’re already ragging on the poor gal/fella. It’s totally ok if you don’t have any muscle, we won’t judge. We know food is scarce in the deep sea. Also, it can be heard to maintain a 5,000-calorie diet and a strict muscle-building routine without a GNC or a crossfit gym close by.
This discovery is a big step not only for deep sea ecology, but also more ocean exploration. Hopefully this little critter can spark the public’s interest in exploring our ocean floor ecosystems and protecting the valuable habitats and wildlife that call these secluded regions home. So, from one pale, muscle-less, solitary creature to another, you just do you ghostopus. Keep on keepin on, hopefully we’ll see more of you in the next few years.
Enjoy the Podcast!