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Researchers have stumbled on a potentially new species of dumbo octopus at a depth of over 6,957 meters inside the Indian Ocean, the deepest depths of any cephalopod ever found.
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The discovery was made by marine biologist Alan Jamieson. However, Jamieson didn’t get to see the octopus firsthand. Instead, he spent most of his time seated in his submarine, exploring the seafloor.
It was when he came back to the surface and reviewed the camera footage that he spotted this adorable deep-sea creature.
“First and foremost, you’ve got your professional hat on,” Jamieson, who took on this work for his research group Armatus Oceanic, told Gizmodo's Earther. “The second hat is, ‘this is so cool’ It’s adventurous, interesting. It’s bizarre. You start to see all these species you’ve only ever filmed and photographed, and suddenly you’re looking at them through a window, alive. It’s just wonderful.”
The discovery wasn't just cute, but it also indicated that the animals could go far deeper than previously thought. In other expeditions, the maximum depth researchers observed them was only 5,145 meters.
Jamieson believes this may indicate that this cephalopod is an entirely new species. However, his team lacked the tools to do the research to confirm that.
“You can see them and bring them to the surface dead,” Jamieson said. “You can’t be in front of it without one of you being dead.”
Jamieson also added that the cephalopods are most likely suffering from climate change and plastic pollution. He explained that it is hard to know to what degree they are suffering, as no direct contact has been made.
Are they merely holding it together or are they thriving? “We’re polluting animals we’ve never even found yet,” Jamieson explained.
The discovery, coupled with Jamieson's warning, is a stark reminder that it is crucial we save our oceans now. The study was published in the journal Marine Biology.