Biology

'Dumbo' Octopus Sightings Give Rare Peek at These Cute Creatures of the Deep

Squee!

An adult dumbo octopus poses for an ROV camera operated by the crew of the EV Nautilus.
Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

The ocean has a reputation for harboring eerie-looking animals like angler fish and giant mystery squid. But let's not overlook the bounty of charming critters that also dwell below the waves. Dumbo octopuses are cephalopods with ear-like fins that make them resemble Disney's flying elephant. Very cute.

My favorite team of enthusiastic ocean explorers with the Exploration Vessel Nautilus delivered an extraordinary remote-operated vehicle video from a recent dive at the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. The ROV captured footage of two different dumbo octopuses, a rare treat.

"The team was delighted first by spotting a juvenile from the Cirroteuthid family," the Nautilus team said on April 9. "And later at 2,160 meters, the team encountered a full-grown Grimpoteuthis sp. dumbo octopus nearly 1 meter wide who spent over 10 minutes around the ROV."

As always with EV Nautilus highlight videos, I recommend viewing with sound up to enjoy the commentary from the crew as they discuss the octopuses. "It doesn't even look real. It looks like a cartoon character," one of them says of the adult.

Nautilus -- operated by the nonprofit Ocean Exploration Trust -- is working to bring the hidden wonders of the ocean to light through livestreams and outreach efforts. The undulating octopuses are mesmerizing to watch, and their appealing appearance makes them compelling ambassadors to the world above the waves.