National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s vessel Okeanos Explorer is dedicated to oceanic exploration—ruefully, it’s the United States’ only federally-funded vessel with this express purpose. Okeanos travels the globe, mapping the ocean floor, and scientists in command centers across the country can access its findings for their own research purposes.
Okeanos also has its own dedicated remotely operated vehicle called Deep Discoverer, which is what spotted this delightfully translucent cephalopod chilling on the ocean floor at a depth of over 4,000 meters. As NOAA explains, the order Octopoda branches into two suborders: cirrate octopods like the goofy-looking “Dumbo” octopus, and incirrate octopods, which are the more familiar creatures you likely associate with the word “octopus.”
This specimen appears to belong to the latter category, but NOAA says it’s unusual because it lacks color and muscle tone, as well as appearing at a previously unknown depth for incirrate octopods. Michael Vecchione of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service writes that he contacted several colleagues, and they agreed with him that the sighting was unprecedented.
Vecchione also writes that the little guy’s ghostly appearance led to someone on social media suggesting he be named Casper. Aww.
Follow along with the Okeanos Explorer’s mission logs here to see what new finds NOAA teams come across.