NOAA researchers operating the Exploration Vessel Nautilus have recently stumbled upon and captured images of an adorable creature that looks like something out of a cartoon, dubbed the “Dumbo” octopus.
Usually deep sea creatures get bigger and more strange looking the deeper you get - the giant squid comes to mind - so naturally researchers were surprised at the cuteness of this little cephalopod.
And as you probably already guessed, the Grimpoteuthis octopus is so cute and cuddly looking that it actually shares its name with Dumbo, the Disney elephant.
The NOAA research vessel, originally on a mission to explore and map the ocean floor, was able to film the hovering octopus during a dive in the Gulf of Mexico back in April, and was clearly the highlight of the trip.
"A ridiculously adorable and ultimately fascinating ‘Dumbo’ octopus found in the Gulf of Mexico," the NOAA’s Facebook page wrote.
Its most distinctive features are the ear-like flaps above their eyes, clearly resembling Dumbo’s famous giant ears, which are also used to propel itself upwards - just like Dumbo’s magical ears allowed him to fly.
While the footage is fascinating, the Huffington Post reports, it also reveals new information about this lesser-studied creature. The Dumbo - which may or may not have been disturbed during filming - coils its tentacles in a way that has never been observed before in the species, according to the NOAA.
Dumbo octopuses are extremely rare, as they are known as the deepest dwellers of all octopus species - they live some 9,800 to 13,000 feet below the surface. They have been spotted in deep sea environments such as in New Zealand and Australia, Monterey Bay, California, Oregon, the Philippines and in Papua, New Guinea. And their cuteness comes not just from their adorable features but from their small size too - they are about eight inches tall, according to the Smithsonian Institute.
The little octopus was so charming that one of the crew members quipped in the video that he “would make a great cartoon.”