SCIENCE & TECH

Earth Week: Giant group of octopus moms discovered in the deep sea

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We know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the bottom of the ocean. The seafloor is an alien landscape, with crushing pressures, near-total darkness and fluids wafting from cracks in the Earth’s crust. It’s also home to weird animals that scientists are only just getting to know. Now, two deep-sea expeditions have revealed a giant group of octopuses and their eggs in a place where they shouldn’t be able to survive. Nearly two miles deep in the Pacific Ocean and 100 miles off the coast of Costa Rica, scientists on two oceanographic cruises used subsea vehicles to explore the Dorado Outcrop, a rocky patch of seafloor formed of cooled and hardened lava from an underwater volcano. Geochemists explored the outcrop in a submersible, hoping to collect samples of the warm fluids that emerge from cracks in the rocks. They didn’t count on finding dozens of octopuses huddled around those openings. The octopuses are an unknown species of the genus Muusoctopus — pink, dinner-plate-sized creatures with enormous eyes. Up to 100 of them occupied every available rock in the area.

Visit Website | Image credit: Phil Torres and Geoff Wheat

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