Scientists Observe Newly Hatched Dumbo Octopus

Posted on February 20, 2018

Dumbo Octopus Hatchling

Deep-sea dumbo octopuses are named for their resemblance to Disney's Dumbo character. They have big eyes and round fins that resemble elephant ears. They are rarely seen because they inhabit deep hard-to-access portions of the ocean floor. Scientists on the U.S. research vessel Ronald H. Brown discovered a dumbo octopus egg attached to a coral branch and brought it on board to watch it hatch.

Tim Shank, a deep-sea biologist at WHOI and coauthor of the study published in Current Biology, says in a statement, "Witnessing the hatching upon its emergence from its egg case was a one of kind observation, a watershed moment that casts the first light on a completely unknown portion the life cycle of dumbo octopods in the deep sea. What's also amazing was that we observed many of these egg cases during the expedition, and they were always on the same few types of coral species, and then only a single egg attached to a single coral colony."

The octopus was placed in a container of seawater after hatching and it immediately began moving its fins. Alexander Ziegler, a study co-author from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Ecology of the University of Bonn, says, "As the video by Dr. Shank shows, the dumbo octopus immediately behaves like an adult animal about ten times its size."

The scientists say the little octopus belongs to the genus Grimpoteuthis. Take a look:

Image: Vimeo/WHOI