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NOAA Scientists Find 'Ghostlike' Octopod Off Hawaii, Believe It's A New Species

Image: NOAA New Octopus Species
A ghostlike octopod. NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

Scientists have spotted a spooky "ghostlike" octopod deep in the waters off Hawaii — but could this curious creature be an entirely new species?

The scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who spotted the "remarkable little octopod," which is a translucent white color, last weekend while collecting geological samples with a remote-operated vehicle on Necker Ridge in the Hawaiian Archipelago believe so.

"The appearance of this animal was unlike any published records and was the deepest observation ever for this type of cephalopod," the class of mollusks that octopuses, squid, and others belong to, NOAA said on its website.

The apparent new species is an incirrate octopod, meaning it lacks fins and cirri — finger-like parts associated with suckers on its arms — and resembles the common octopus that lives in shallower water.

But what makes this creature unusual is that it had suckers in one, rather than two, series on each tentacle. Its color is also very distinctive: Unlike most cephalopods, it lacks pigment cells.

NOAA Scientists Find 'Ghostlike' Octopod Off Hawaii, Believe It's A New Species 0:45

"This resulted in a ghostlike appearance, leading to a comment on social media that it should be called Casper, like the friendly cartoon ghost," NOAA said.

And because it was found at a depth of over 14,000 feet, it appears to be the first incirrate discovered that far down on the sea floor.

"It is almost certainly an undescribed species and may not belong to any described genus," the agency said.

It's not clear how big the animal is. It was spotted "sitting on a flat rock dusted with a light coat of sediment," scientists said.