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A set of scientists and researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations (NOAA) Okeanos Explorer have claimed the discovery of what they think could be an entirely new species of octopus.
The creature was filmed by the crew on 27 February 2016 off the coast of Hawaii and was described as ghost-like by the crew because of its pale appearance due to the lack of pigment cells.
The octopuss white appearance has led it being dubbed Casper the Friendly Ghost on social media. The Okeanos Explorer found the octopus by accident when they launched their remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to collect geological samples from the sea floor.
On Feb. 27, a U.S. rover named Deep Discoverer ("D2" for short), was surveying the seabed in a remote area northwest of Hawaii. At a depth of 4,290 meters — more than 14,000 feet, or 2.6 miles, below the surface — its LED lights and HD cameras suddenly found themselves looking at this:
D2's discovery belongs to the latter group, and immediately becomes the deepest-dwelling incirrate octopus ever documented. (Cirrate octopods have been reported as deep as 5,000 meters, but the deepest-known incirrate sightings — until now — were all shallower than 4,000 meters.) Yet despite having no fins or cirri, the newfound octopus still has a few weird features that help it stand out.
It "did not seem very muscular," according to Vecchione, and its mild muscle tone gives it a baggy, almost nebulous appearance. It also has no chromatophores, pigment cells that are typical of cephalopods, so its body is basically colorless. "This resulted in a ghostlike appearance," Vecchione writes, "leading to a comment on social media that it should be called Casper, like the friendly cartoon ghost."
"When the sub got up close to it, it started climbing away," he says, "either reacting to lights of the sub or vibrations of the water."
Even if it's unusual to come across unknown octopuses, exploring the deep ocean often turns up some kind of otherworldly oddity — like this sea cucumber, spotted near Pioneer Bank in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands on March 4: