Watch Beautiful Footage of the Rarely Seen Glass Octopus




First things first: the plural of octopus is not “octopi,” it’s octopuses.

Now, drop everything and watch the video above. It’s an extremely rare sighting of a glass octopus, “a nearly transparent species, whose only visible features are its optic nerve, eyeballs and digestive tract” notes the Schmidt Ocean Institute. “Before this expedition, there has been limited live footage of the glass octopus, forcing scientists to learn about the animal by studying specimens found in the gut contents of predators.”

Limited sightings did not stop the poet Marianne Moore from seeing something like this wondrous creature in her mind’s eye:

it lies “in grandeur and in mass”
beneath a sea of shifting snow-dunes;
dots of cyclamen-red and maroon on its clearly defined
pseudo-podia
made of glass that will bend-a much needed invention-
comprising twenty-eight ice-fields from fifty to five hundred
feet thick,
of unimagined delicacy.

Glass octopuses have green dots and do not live under “snow-dunes” but in the warm Pacific waters beneath the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) near Samoa, and elsewhere Schmidt Ocean Institute scientists captured rare footage and “identified new marine organisms,” writes Colossal, while recording “the sought-after whale shark swimming through the Pacific Ocean.”

We must admit, Moore got the sense of awe just right….

Marine scientists from around the world embarked on the 34-day expedition on the ship Falkor. Using “high-resolution mapping tools,” Ocean Conservancy writes, they surveyed “more than 11,500 square miles of sea floor” and observed “not one but two glass octopuses,” with a remote operated vehicle (ROV) called SuBastian.

See several views of the glass octopuses — the stars of the show — and dozens more rare and beautiful creatures (such as perennial internet favorite the Dumbo octopus, below, from a 2020 expedition) at the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s Instagram. “We’re at the beginning of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development,” remarked chief scientist of the Falkor expedition Dr. Randi Rotjan of Boston University. “[N]ow 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.” Learn more at the Schmidt Ocean Institute here.

via Laughing Squid

Related Content: 

A Radical Map Puts the Oceans–Not Land–at the Center of Planet Earth (1942)

The Biodiversity Heritage Library Makes 150,000 High-Res Illustrations of the Natural World Free to Download

When an Octopus Caused the Great Staten Island Ferry Disaster (November 22, 1963)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness


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