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
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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