A mysterious type of octopus with a ghostlike appearance has been discovered by scientists during a recent expedition to Necker Island in the mid-Pacific.
The “remarkable little octopod” was observed Saturday atop a flat rock at a depth of 14,000 feet, according to Michael Vecchione, a NOAA scientist who was part of the Okeanos Explorer mission.
Scientists photographed the nearly translucent octopus via the remotely operated vehicle, Deep Discoverer.
This octopus is not described in scientific journals and most likely does not belong to a described genus. What’s known is that it belongs to a distinct group of cephalopods known as “incirrate” octopods, which are characterized by their lack of fins and fingerlike “cirri.”
Vecchione wrote in a blog post published late Wednesday:
“This animal was particularly unusual because it lacked the pigment cells, called chromatophores, typical of most cephalopods and it did not seem very muscular. This resulted in a ghostlike appearance, leading to a comment on social media that it should be called Casper, like the friendly cartoon ghost.
“It is almost certainly an undescribed species and may not belong to any described genus.”
Two photos of the octopus were posted to Facebook by Invertebrate Zoology, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. (The Casper references appear in the comment thread.)
Necker Island is part of the northwest Hawaiian islands. The Okeanos Explorer was collecting geological samples, but did not collect the ghostlike octopus, to the delight of Facebook viewers who understandably described the critter as cute