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The 'Elephant' of the Deep Sea

Tanay Daphtary

Thousands of meters beneath the ocean roam the Grimpoteuthis or the Dumbo Octopuses, making them a rare creature to find. Like most octopi, they have tentacles which help them move around. What is unusual is the web of skin in between them resembling an umbrella when they are spread. Hence, these Mollusks are part of the family of Umbrella Octopuses.

The word ‘Dumbo’ does not have a scientific meaning but is merely used to describe their fins, which help them propel through the water, as they resemble the ears of Disney’s, Dumbo the Elephant.It’s fun to imagine them flapping their fins and swiftly gliding through the water, which also separates them from other octopuses that crawl across the ocean floor using their tentacles.

The Dumbo Octopodes have evolved to withstand a high pressure, extremely cold water, and no sunlight because of the depths that they roam in. However, sometimes, they can come to the surface to feed on plankton instead of the small crustaceans, snails, worms and other oceanic creatures that they eat at the bottom of the ocean.

They have evolved in the way they reproduce as well due to the unreliability of finding a mate in the deep-dark waters.When they do, the females stop hovering about and come to the oceanic-floor wherein they lay their eggs on rocks, corals and other hard-surfaces. And when these eggs hatch, the baby octopi are found fully-formed. During an Atlantic Expedition led by Tom Shanks, he discovered these eggs attached to corals which at first looked like small golf balls!

The Dumbo Octopus does not need to worry about predators as they rarely encounter any at such great depths. Which is why they do not have any ink-sacs like most Octopodes do. However, they are susceptible to being prey for sharks, tunas, dolphins and seldom human-fishing nets. Which is why some assume that they are only very slightly threatened by human activities, if at all.

You can watch a baby Dumbo Octopus swimming here:

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