It's like Beetlejuice meets The Little Mermaid.
Sometimes the ocean is like a Tim Burton movie. It's a fantastical place of visual wonders that defy reality. Startling videos of the world below the surface arrive regularly from E/V Nautilus, a vessel dedicated to exploring the ocean.
The latest treat is a mysterious species of octopus that can make itself look like a circus tent.
The Nautilus researchers believe this unusual critter belongs to the Cirroteuthidae family. "Of the recognized species, it is closest to Cirrothauma magna. However, we know of several undescribed species and this could be one," invertebrate zoologist Mike Vecchione said on the vessel's website.
The octopus puts on a big show in the video posted Sunday. It expands outward like a parachute filling with air and then contracts again.
The animal measures about 8 inches (20 centimeters) across, but seems to be making itself look as large as possible. "He wants us to know that he's too big to slurp," a Nautilus team member comments during the video.
The ship's remote underwater camera spotted the enigmatic cephalopod at a depth of 5,250 feet (1,600 meters) while investigating the waters near the uninhabited Baker Island in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.
Nautilus is on a mission to better understand the habitat, topography and geologic history of this area of the Pacific. The expedition, which runs from Aug. 25 to Sept. 16, has already generated some eye-opening footage from the depths, including a very fab shape-shifting jellyfish.
While we often look to space exploration to be amazed, Nautilus' work is a powerful reminder of the marvels beneath the waves.