A month-long survey by researchers who explored more than 30,000 square kilometers has at last yielded results. The marine scientists were able to capture a rare glimpse of the obscure glass octopus, known as Vitreledonella richardi, while exploring seamounts in the vast, mysterious depths of the Pacific.
The glass octopus has barely a few features that are opaque and clearly visible – their eyeballs, digestive tract, and optic nerve. They have rarely been filmed before, and never with such clarity, despite scientists having knowledge of their existence for over a century.
Marine scientists had been forced to rely on specimens of the glass octopus found in the gut of predators for past studies. This is the first live footage taken by scientists from the Schmidt Ocean Institute.
The Glass Octopus Has Been Never Filmed Live Before
The delicately graceful was brilliantly captured by a robot as it glided underwater through the depths of the Pacific.
This oceanographic research expedition captured 2 footage of the glass octopus from a research vessel near the Phoenix Islands, which is an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, north of Samoa, part of the Republic of Kiribati. The islands are located over 3,200 miles (5,100 kilometers) to the northeast of Australia.
The glass octopus is similar in appearance to other glass-like creatures like some comb jellies, and glass frogs. The expedition encountered the obscure glass octopus twice in the course of their voyage.
The glass octopus was first discovered in 1918. These cephalopods remained mostly elusive and little was known about them except that the creatures frequent subtropical and tropical areas deep in the ocean mostly in the twilight zone (mesopelagic) which is between 656 and 3,280 feet (200-1,000 meters) below sea level, and also the midnight zone (bathypelagic) between 3,280 and 9,800 feet (1,000-3000 meters).
The eyes have developed to present a minimal silhouette and help in camouflaging the creature.
The scientists and researchers spent over a month mapping the seafloor with high-resolution cameras, covering over 30,000 sq. kilometers. They also conducted a video exploration of 5 more seamounts.
Executive Director Dr. Jyotika Virmani of the Schmidt Ocean Institute said that the marine scientists collaborated with local researchers and scientists. The institute was founded by a former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, and Wendy Schmidt.
Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Boston University were part of the expedition. It marked a remarkable successful expedition that straddled the frontiers of exploration and science.
One Of The World’s Rarest Sights
The live-streaming of the dives gave researchers a rare and invaluable glimpse of the rarely sighted glass octopus along with other mysterious creatures lurking in the depth of the Pacific Ocean. It will help researchers in furthering their knowledge of such creatures and prepare them for protecting them in the future in their natural habitats.
The expedition team used an underwater robot name SuBastian operating from the research ship, Falkor. It managed to capture footage of the whale shark for the first time. The shark reaches a length of over 40 feet. The scientists were also able to witness the unusual behavior of other marine creatures.
During their expeditionary dives, they were able to witness crabs in the process of sealing fish from other crabs. The research team made a total of 21 expeditionary dives totaling exploration of 182 hours deep under the ocean and on the sea bed.
Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of the institute said that the ocean conceals much more than we can even wonder much less discover. She said that such thorough expeditions teach us the need to ramp up our efforts to better understand and restore the complex marine ecosystem all around the planet. Life originated in the depths of the ocean and a better understanding of that holds the key to human well-being and health.