Rarely-seen glass octopus caught on camera.
The deep sea is full of mysterious things. We’ve barely scratched the proverbial surface, and it’s more than likely that there are many undiscovered creatures swimming around down there. The Schmidt Ocean Institute, an organization focused on advancing oceanographic research using new and innovative technologies, freely shares anything it learns from its voyages. It has a research vessel called Falkor, that’s available to the international science community at no cost.
“The Ocean holds wonders and promises we haven’t even imagined, much less discovered,” said Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Ocean Institute. “Expeditions like these teach us why we need to increase our efforts to restore and better understand marine ecosystems everywhere – because the great chain of life that begins in the ocean is critical for human health and wellbeing.”
The scientists there have been exploring the Phoenix Islands Archipelago, also known as Rawaki. It’s a group of eight atolls and two submerged coral reefs. They lie just north of Samoa in the central Pacific Ocean, and what they’ve been finding there is, frankly, mind-blowing.
“It has been very inspiring to help document the biodiversity of unexplored seamounts on the high seas and in U.S. waters,” said the expedition Chief Scientist Dr. Randi Rotjan of Boston University. “We’re at the beginning of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, so now 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.”
The expedition, which took place over 34 days, found a variety of interesting animals, but one stands out: on one dive in particular, the team spotted an extremely rare, clear animal known as a glass octopus. The octopus was spotted at 651 meters (2132 feet) at a seamount in the Winslow reef complex on Tokelau Ridge in Phoenix Islands Archipelago. They’re not a huge creature, reaching 18 inches from tip of the mantle to the tips of the tentacles. It’s one of the least studied cephalopods in the world.
Before now, there was almost no footage of the glass octopus, so the crystal-clear new video is a boon to researchers. “Before this expedition, there has been limited live footage of the glass octopus,” the team wrote, “forcing scientists to learn about the animal by studying specimens found in the gut contents of predators.”