From movies to comics to literature, the octopuses of this world tend to get a pretty bad rap—but the goggled-eyed flapjack octopus shows us a sweet, cartoonish side of the cephlapod species. Scientists have only been aware of the creatures, which live some 1,400 feet below the ocean’s surface, since the early 1990s—and now one researcher at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) has the privilege of being the first to formally describe the unusual octopus. So endeared to the unbelievably cute sea creature, she is considering the name Opisthotheusis Adorabilis.
The flapjack octopus is small—just seven inches in diameter—and has an unusual webbing between its tentacles that allows it to “parachute” smoothly through waters, steered by two small fins atop its head. They are reportedly very fragile, and particularly gelatinous, and part of the Opisthoteuthis genus. But other than that, very little is known about them.
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A few specimens have lived at the Monterey Bay Aquarium since 2014, housed in temperature-controlled tanks that are exposed only to red light—which the octopuses can’t themselves see. One of the residents has laid eggs, which have been incubating for over a year, and may continue to do so for many more years. Stephanie Bush, a post-doctoral researcher at MBARI has been studying every aspect of these strange deep-sea creatures, in the hopes of gaining a greater understanding of ocean ecosystems, and will soon—perhaps—give them their adorable name.
Via Science Friday
Images screengrab via YouTube