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Scientists capture the world's deepest octopus on video. And it's adorable.

Scientists recorded a dumbo octopus at depths of up to 4.3 miles (6,957 meters) beneath the Indian Ocean. Here, another dumbo octopus is seen foraging at a depth of 3.6 miles (5,760 m).
Scientists recorded a dumbo octopus at depths of up to 4.3 miles (6,957 meters) beneath the Indian Ocean. Here, another dumbo octopus is seen foraging at a depth of 3.6 miles (5,760 m).
(Image: © Atlantic Productions for Discovery Channel)

Explorers have captured video of the deepest-known octopus, revealing an adorably pudgy Dumbo octopus some 4.3 miles (6,957 meters) beneath the surface of the Indian Ocean swimming in what is called the hadal zone, where not even a drop of sunlight can penetrate.

The dumbo octopus (genus Grimpoteuthis), with its wee size and two relatively large fins that look like the eponymous Disney character's ears, is often called "the cutest octopus in the world," according to National Geographic. It's also one of the deepest-known octopuses, known to live more than 2 miles (3,200 m) below the ocean's surface.

The newfound creature — recorded more than a mile deeper than any octopus has ever been spotted before — and another Dumbo octopus dwelling 3.6 miles (5,760 m) below the surface were described in a new study, published May 26 in the journal Marine Biology.

Related: In Photos: Spooky Deep-Sea Creatures

These discoveries were made last April during dives to the Java Trench — the deepest part of the Indian Ocean — as part of the Five Deeps expedition, in which a team of explorers dove to the deepest part of all of the world's oceans in a submersible and deployed landers, as previously reported by Live Science.

Dumbo octopuses are  "cirrate" octopuses, meaning they have protrusions coming off their suckers called cirri, which have an unknown function, according to National Geographic. 

These observations "unequivocally" identify cirrate octopuses as members of the hadal community, the authors wrote in the paper. The hadal zone is the deepest part of the ocean — typically deeper than 3.73 miles (6,000 m). But because both octopuses were observed in the same area, it's difficult to know whether such octopuses live this deep globally or if this was "the result of chance encounter with an abnormally deep population," the authors wrote.

To live at such depths, these creatures' bodies would need to have somehow adapted to the extreme pressure of the deep sea, the chief scientist on the expedition, Alan Jamieson, who is also a senior lecturer at Newcastle University in the U.K. and the CEO of Armatus Oceanic, a deep-sea consultancy, told the BBC. "They'd have to do something clever inside their cells. If you imagine a cell is like a balloon — it's going to want to collapse under pressure. So, it will need some smart biochemistry to make sure it retains that sphere," he said.

The Indian Ocean is teeming with both familiar creatures such as starfish and sea cucumbers as well as unfamiliar ones. For instance, the Five Deeps explorers also captured a video of a strange gelatinous creature that looks like a balloon on a string, Live Science previously reported

Originally published on Live Science.

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  • amos083
    I must object to the manner in which units are converted to the metric system. They appear in the style of "4.3 miles (6,957 meters)"; the Imperial units are given as at most 2-digit precision notation (as they should be, after all it doesn't matter whether an octopus dives a few feet above or below), but metric units are always listed in the highest precision possible, even when such precision is meaningless.

    I'm not blaming Live Science of inventing this style. I have seen this happen ever since the Federal government was supposed to go metric in 1986; it leads to monstrosities like signs in national parks saying things like "ELEVATION 609.6m (2000ft)" or even "WATER 15.24m (50ft)". This style leads laymen to believe that the metric system is something so precise and complicated, only rocket scientists in white frocks can understand it.

    In the case of the Federal government, it's not unthinkable that this was done on purpose, to deter people from converting to the metric system; but there's no reason a scientific publication would go along with this policy. How about "4.3 mile (7km)"?
    Reply