A spooky and extremely rare “Dumbo” octopus was spotted on camera during a deep sea exploration off the coast of Hawaii.
A team of researchers from Ocean Exploration Trust were exploring the ocean floor 5,518 feet deep on an unmanned deep-sea submersible in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands — when the eerie creature suddenly drifted past the camera of their vessel Exploration Vessell Nautilus.
The remotely operated vehicle exploring the sea floor spotted the Dumbo octopus looking ghostly white amid the blackness of the ocean — as the floating cephalopod reflected light off the team’s equipment.
Excited researchers spotted the rare Dumbo octopus during a live broadcast from the expedition. In the footage, the crew of the remote-operated vehicle can be heard responding in awe as the stunning creature bobs into view.
“Oh wow!” a researcher exclaims, while another jokes that the octopus had “flappy, flappy ears.”
In the footage, the Dumbo octopus drifts through the pitch-black ocean — a few meters from the seafloor — by using its ear-like fins and eight webbed limbs to glide its body with little effort.
A Rare Octopus Named After a Disney Character
The big-eared octopus gets its name because of its resemblance to the titular elephant in Disney’s 1941 movie Dumbo. Dumbo octopuses have two large ear-like fins protruding above their eyes.
Measuring around two feet long, the specimen captured on camera is quite large for a species that is typically no more than eight to 12 inches in length.
Dumbo octopuses are the deepest living octopuses known to man. The creatures live at depths of up to 22,900 feet and have an average life span of three to five years.
They are incredibly rare and perfectly adapted to the extreme conditions of life at the bottom of the ocean. They survive eating snails and worms found on the ocean floor.
The Exploration Vessel Nautilus is a research ship owned by a conservation charity called the Ocean Exploration Trust. It travels the seas and oceans looking at life and is currently exploring the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the North Pacific Ocean.
Image credits: Feature photo licensed via YouTube/EVNautilus.