Windows to the Deep 2018: Exploration of the Southeast U.S. Continental Margin

Dive 15: Octopus’s Garden

by Heather Judkins, Assistant Professor, University of South Florida St. Petersburg
June 29, 2018

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Video courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Windows to the Deep 2018. Download larger version (mp4, 33.9 MB).

Octopus are known to be the masters of hiding in their oceanic habitats and how lucky were we to see five Bathypolypus bairdii on one dive? This octopus prefers a muddy habitat and can be found in the North Atlantic Ocean, from approximately 20 to 1,500 meters (66 to 4,921 feet) deep. Characteristics such as the “warty” appearance of its skin and the fact that it has suckers on two rows on their arms led the scientists to a species determination.

These octopus are members of the incirrate octopods, a group that makes up 85 percent of the extant octopods worldwide. These benthic species do not possess fins or cirri (filaments along arms) and can generally be found from intertidal pools along the coast down to more than 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) deep on the seafloor. One exciting new find on another NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer dive in 2016 off the coast of Hawaii was the discovery of another incirrate octopus. The unique thing about this octopus was that it was found in over 4,000 meters (2.5 miles) of water! It has been nicknamed “Casper” until a complete new species description is written.

The other 15 percent of octopods are the cirrates that possess both cirri and posterior fins that help in swimming. An example would be the Grimpoteuthis species, also known as the “Dumbo octopus,” we saw on an NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer dive in 2014 in the Gulf of Mexico.

Multiple Bathypolypus bairdii octopus were seen during Dive 15 of the Windows to the Deep 2018 expedition.

Multiple Bathypolypus bairdii octopus were seen during Dive 15 of the Windows to the Deep 2018 expedition. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Windows to the Deep 2018. Download larger version (jpg, 1.5 MB).

These Illex squid try to steal the show from the octopus during Dive 15 of the Windows to the Deep 2018 expedition.

These Illex squid try to steal the show from the octopus during Dive 15 of the Windows to the Deep 2018 expedition.Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Windows to the Deep 2018. Download larger version (jpg, 1.6 MB).