For the past month, a team of researchers from the Schmidt Ocean Institute has been exploring the depths of the Pacific Ocean, near the remote and mostly uninhabited Phoenix Islands, east of Kiribati. The Institute’s Ocean Adventures routinely uncover some of the great wonders of the deep ocean, such asand this 34-day expedition was no different.
During the expedition, which recently returned to shore, Schmidt’s researchers were very lucky. They made two sightings of a rarely seen cephalopod: the glass octopus, Vitreledonella richardi. The transparent wonder has been known to science since 1918, but it is difficult to study because it lives deep in the open ocean. Previous studies of the creature have been limited to analyzing specimens recovered from the entrails of predators.
“The ocean holds wonders and promises that we never even imagined, much less discovered,” Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of the institute, said in a press release.
“Expeditions like these teach us why we must increase our efforts to restore and better understand marine ecosystems everywhere, because the great chain of life that begins in the ocean is critical to human health and well-being,” said Schmidt.
Not only were the expedition looking for ghostly octopods, they were conducting valuable science. The Phoenix Islands comprise one of the largest oceanic coral ecosystems in the world and contain a number of seamount habitats with a diversity of life. More than 182 hours of exploration were carried out with Auctioneer, the underwater robot of the Ocean Institute.
The Ocean Institute also said the researchers identified “unique marine behaviors, including the crab stealing fish from each other.”
“Observing these deep-sea communities has altered the way we think about how organisms live and interact in seamounts and how they maintain the diversity of life in the deep ocean,” said Tim Shank, biologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. , who participated in the expedition, said in a statement.