Creatures found deep in the ocean are sometimes known for their oddly-terrifying looks, but, in some cases, ocean life can come with more pleasurable, cartoon-like characteristics like those seen in Finding Nemo. Scientists have found a few new specimens of a type of tiny octopus that has yet to be give an official name that resembles Pac-Man., and is now being referred to as “adorabilis.”
Although the adorable, little cephalopod is now being awed over social media, the big-eyed octopus does not have a name yet, even though it was discovered over 20 years ago. So, who will name the fictional-looking creature? The woman in charge of that task is Stephanie Bush, a researcher at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).
Bush said she considered naming the creature, “‘Opisthoteuthis adorabilis‘ because they are just – yeah, they’re really cute.” Like fellow members of the Opisthoteuthis family, adorabilis is also being nicknamed the “flapjack octopus” due to the way it moves by using a flapping disk of webbing between its small tentacles. This type of octopus jets around the water looking for prey by hovering just above the sea floor, and steering with its octopus arms.
The color of the adorabilis is quite common among sea creatures that live far beneath the surface of the ocean. In deep-sea regions, ocean water absorbs wavelengths of red light, creating a pinkish shadow in which the octopus can hide, stalking prey, like worms and small crustaceans, and hiding from fellow sea floor predators.
The adorabilis typically spends its times sitting on the bottom sediment. Though, throughout the day, they can be found hovering around the ocean floor in search of food and mating partners, Bush said.
This cute, yet nameless sea creature was discovered in the 1990s, but, in 2014, scientists at MBARI found a few adorabilis octopi in the waters of the Monterey Canyon in the eastern Pacific. Several specimens that were collected, all of which are female, still live at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California in a specialized tank that simulates the animal’s cold, oxygen-deprived habitat, found nearly 600 meters below the surface of the ocean, where water is just six degrees Celsius.
To the researchers’ disbelief, one of the octopi laid a few very small eggs, which are now being incubated in the lab. Therefore, even though the adorabilis octopi are not currently on exhibit at the aquarium, they could be if the eggs hatch healthy babies, but that would be in a years to come. Normally, “it takes two to three years,” for the eggs to hatch because of the very low temperature of the water, Bush explained.
Moreover, considering the scientific vernacular for the species is O. adorabilis, its offspring will be a baby O. adorabilis. If one wishes to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium within the next few years, they could be one of the first ones to see a Pac-Man-like baby O. adorabilis octopus.
By Alex Lemieux
Sydney Morning Herald: Tiny octopus so cute it may be named ‘adorabilis’
Quartz: Video: This tiny octopus is so cute, scientists want to name it “adorabilis”
ABC News: Octopus Looks Like Cross Between Pokemon Character and Pac-Man Ghost