Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel
This summer a googly-eyed, bright purple squid that looks like a child’s lost toy was found off California’s coast, 3,000 feet under the sea.
Scientists on board the Exploration Vessel Nautilus research ship, funded by the nonprofit Ocean Exploration Trust, could hardly contain their glee when they viewed the remote video feed of the adorable creature.
The unexpected find was ultimately determined to be a stubby squid (Rossia pacifica). Its large eyes enable it to see better in the ocean’s depths by gathering as much light as possible.
Meanwhile, across the Pacific Ocean other discoveries were being made just months earlier. A never-before-seen ghost octopus… and a giant, minivan-sized sea sponge.
Researchers aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s ship Okeanos Explorer announced sightings of new sea life found in the deep sea waters of Hawaii.
They were found in Hawaii’s 582,578 square mile Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.
Using a remotely-operated vehicle to navigate the protected waters of this oceanic World Heritage site, the Okeanos Explorer crew recorded video of a pale, ghost-like octopus more than 40,000 meters under the sea. That’s more than 2.5 miles down and, according to NOAA, is the “deepest observation of this type of cephalopod (octopus).”
The little ghost octopus even made an appearance in Alex Hallatt’s popular cartoon strip Arctic Circle.
The Okeanos Explorer‘s other new discovery, a giant sponge, is the size of a mini-van. It was spotted at a depth of 7,000-feet and and is so large that the crew had to keep panning the video camera to take it all in and figure out what they were looking at.
“With a mass more than 3.5 meters long, 2 meters high and 1.5 meters wide, this creature may be centuries old,” says NOAA scientist Daniel Wagner, who made the discovery with biologist Christopher Kelley.
The sponge may have grown so large due to the region of the ocean where it lives, Wagner suggests.
“We expect this environment to be very stable, one of the most pristine places on Earth — giving it a chance to flourish.”
SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel learned that making discoveries like this is what the E/V Nautilus and Okeanos Explorer were both designed to do.
The 211-ft. E/V Nautilus, operated under the direction of Dr. Robert Ballard, who discovered the wreck of the Titanic and the sunken German battleship Bismarck, is committed to exploring the uncharted parts of the ocean and making new discoveries.
NOAA’s 224-ft Okeanos Explorer has a similar mission: “to systematically explore our largely unknown ocean for the purpose of discovery and the advancement of knowledge.” The former Navy ship has traveled the world – from the Indonesian Coral Triangle to the Marianas Trench, the Galapagos Islands and Mid-Cayman Rise, studying geological formations, marine life, and more.
And now, because of these ships’ continuing journeys beyond the boundaries of civilization, a lovable squid and two new life forms have been found just beyond the camera’s lens…
hidden in the ocean’s depths.
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