Monday, February 1, 2010

Dumbo Octopus: Two Eyes, Eight Tentacles, and Wings

"Species: Grimpoteuthis or Dumbo Octopus"
Everything Octopus (February 1, 2009)

"The octopuses of the genus Grimpoteuthis are also known as "Dumbo Octopuses" from the ear-like fins protruding from the top of their head-like bodies, resembling the ears of Walt Disney's flying elephant. They are benthic creatures, living at extreme depths: 3000-4000 meters, and are some of the rarest of the Octopoda species. They can flush the transparent layer of their skin at will, and are pelagic animals, as with all other cirrate octopuses, and unlike many other incirrate octopuses.

"They hover above the sea floor, searching for worms, bivalves, pelagic copepods, and other crustaceans. They move by pulsing their arms, shooting water through their funnel, or by waving their ear-like fins...."

"Cirrate?" "Benthic??" I'll grant that this isn't the easiest-to-read post you'll ever find.

A rough translation: Dumbo octopi live really deep in the ocean. and have fins.

The dumbo octopus is of the Cirrata suborder of octopi. From the writeup on the other side of that link, I gather that "cirrata" means "finned" - in this case.

"Pelagic" means "relating to or occurring or living in or frequenting the open ocean". (Princeton's WordNet)

Just about every article on these deep-sea octopi say that those fins look like ears. I see what they mean: but they're more like wings.

This post does a pretty good job of describing these strange and - I think - beautiful creatures. From the looks of it, the blogger picked up quite a bit of the information at BBC's "Dumbo octopus" page.

Dumbo Octopus Videos

"Octopus Ballet"

RSNOOI, YouTube (March 31, 2009)
video, 3:08

"This white octopus was filmed with a high-definition underwater video camera at 6600 feet depth 200 miles off the coast of Oregon in September 2005 as part of the...."

An octopus - Grimpoteuthis bathynectes - swimming. Set to music. Maybe that'll help more people see the beauty and grace of these creatures. This YouTube video seems to be derived from "Octopus Ballet," WUTV, University of Wisconsin.

"Dumbo Octopus at the FeMO Microbial Observatory"

hstaudig, YouTube (December 1, 2007)
video, 1:03

"A dumbo octopus visited the Microbial observatory for Fe-oxidizing bacteria at Loihi Seamount Hawaii"

No music with this one: but you see the creature from a different angle.

"Graceful?" "Beautiful?!" "That?!!"

I'll grant that the Dumbo octopus isn't as cute and cuddly-looking as the creature's namesake. You may think they look more like Cthulhu than anything that belongs in this universe.

I'll grant that octopi, along with quite a few other marine creatures, don't 'look right,' from our land-living point of view. A - thing - with all-too-human-appearing eyes, a body that looks like a floppy head, and tentacles where the mouth should be (the mouth's there, actually, in the middle of them) isn't the sort of creature that makes for a good plush toy model. Title character in a horror story? yes. Cute? No.

But I also see creatures that move with wonderful grace through the water that's their home.

One more thing: I've heard that octopi don't make very good pets. They get out of their tanks easily, and can live in air for a while.

Pleasant dreams.

Not-exactly-related post about another strange critter:More:

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