For the first time, a rare dumbo octopus hatching from its egg has been caught on video.
Most people think of the ocean as a terrifying place, filled with deadly creatures all too happy to gobble up an unsuspecting diver. Octopuses (and yes, it’s octopuses and not octopi or octopodes) have a rich history of being the basis for legendary nautical nightmares, such as the deadly kraken — a giant octopus capable of sinking ships with its massive tentacles.
The dumbo octopus — so called because of it’s adorable little ears resembling, yes, Dumbo the elephant — is nothing like a Kraken. For starters, it’s usually less than a foot long, and those tentacles are way too short to sink anything larger than a pebble.
Little is known about the tiny dumbo octopus owing to the fact they’re usually found deep under the ocean’s surface. Most species live between 3000 to 7000 meters below sea level (that's 9800 to 23000 ft for you non-metric types), so researching the species is both difficult and expensive. We know the largest species can get up to 5.9 ft long and weigh 13 pounds (remember - these guys don’t have skeletons to weigh them down), and they typically eat small isopods, worms, and crustaceans on the ocean floor.
One of the biggest mysteries has been the dumbo’s life cycle. Most octopuses hatch from eggs in a sort of larval state, extremely tiny and vulnerable to all sorts of predators. But now, for the first time, we get to see the dumbo hatch from its egg sac and get our first glimpse at the little guy’s birth form.
As you can see from the video, the egg is attached to a tiny piece of coral, and as the dumbo hatches it emerges fully formed with its little ear-fins flapping in the water. Hardly a deadly predator, but an adorable little cephalopod!
This egg capsule was actually from off the US East Coast back in 2005 on a research vessel. The ship used a remote submersible to scoop the coral off the seafloor about 6600 ft down. The video, as well as the research surrounding the dumbo octopus, was then published in Current Biology.