Deep-sea scientists have managed to capture an incredibly rare yet stunning ‘glass octopus’ during a ground-breaking expedition in the central Pacific Ocean.
Building upon a revolutionary 2017 expedition, marine scientists aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute research vessel Falkor spent 34 days exploring the remote Phoenix Islands archipelago.
The team carried out high-resolution seafloor mapping of over 30,000 square kilometres and a camera exploration of five additional seamounts, in research described as ‘the most comprehensive study of deep sea coral and sponge ecosystems in this part of the world.’
As Expedition Chief Scientist Dr. Randi Rotjan of Boston University shared, ‘It has been very inspiring to help document the biodiversity of unexplored seamounts on the high seas and in U.S. waters.
We’re at the beginning of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, so now is the time to think about conservation broadly across all oceanscapes, and the maps, footage, and data we have collected will hopefully help to inform policy and management in decision making around new high seas protected areas.’
Scientists have only made two sightings of this extraordinarily rare and almost transparent octopus so far, whose only visible features are the optic nerve, eyeballs, and digestive tract.
It’s hoped these findings will help define the origins of adaptive immunity within multicellular animals, a development that could assist with modern medical research in fields like cancer immunotherapies, drug delivery and enhanced vaccine efficacy.