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Dance of the Dumbo Octopus



In September 2005, members of the VISIONS ‘05 expedition captured video footage of the white deep-sea octopod, Grimpoteuthis bathynectes.

A high-definition underwater video camera was carried to the seafloor on a robot tethered to a ship. The footage was taken 200 miles off the Oregon coast at a depth of 6600 feet. This region is home to hydrothermal vent fields, or hot springs, associated with the underwater volcanoes of the Juan de Fuca Ridge.

This octopod, Grimpoteuthis bathynectes, is nicknamed “Dumbo” because of its large “ear” like fins. These fins and webbed arms help it swim through the water. What looks like the head is called the mantle, a muscular bag that holds all the body organs and gills.

Little is known about the deep-sea octopods. How good is the vision of their big bulbous eyes? What is the purpose of the small sense organs on the arms called cirri?

Professors John Delaney and Deborah Kelley of the University of Washington led the VISIONS ’05 expedition.

Video courtesy of VISIONS ’05 Expedition
Produced by Nancy Penrose
Special thanks: W.M. Keck Foundation, Jerome Paros, and Elaina Jorgensen
Music courtesy of Bryan Verhoye