Researchers aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus came across this purple googly-eyed squid while scanning the ocean floor. (Smithsonian.com/AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
Big-eyed squid looks more like toy than animal
August 26, 2016
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Scientists and technicians scanning the rocky ocean floor off Southern California couldn't contain their excitement. That was when they spotted a bright-purple, googly-eyed stubby squid.
They let out a collective "whoa" on video posted on the Exploration Vessel Nautilus' Facebook page. This was as a camera on a remote-operated vehicle came across the iridescent cephalopod with giant round eyes.
Then the jokes started.
"He has weird eyes!" said one enthusiastic observer. "Get close! Get close!" urged another.
One suggested it resembled a child's dropped toy. Another said the creature's eyes appeared to be painted on.
"It looks so fake," said one member of the Nautilus' team.
The creature looks like a cross between a squid and an octopus. But it is closely related to a cuttlefish. This is according to the Nautilus Live website.
The find could be more than just bemusing.
"In addition to the googly-eyed cuteness, there is one thing biologically interesting about this observation," said cephalopod expert Michael Vecchione. He is with the Smithsonian Institution. The creature could be a new species, he wrote in an email to the expedition.
It was spotted at nearly 3,000 feet deep. That is unusual, but not unheard of. On top of that, the stubby squid didn't have chromatophores. Those are cells that allow it to change color, as members of its species do, Vecchione said.
The question can't be answered, however. That is because this particular stubby squid remains deep in the ocean. It is out of scientists' reach.
The Nautilus team is part of a four-month Ocean Exploration Trust expedition. The team is mapping underwater fault zones from Canada to California. The expedition wants to understand ecosystems around the fault zones.
The team spends hours scanning the barren ocean-scape. "Then to come across something adorable like that - it's a real treat," Exploration Vessel Nautilus spokeswoman Susan Poulton said.
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What makes this creature “adorable?”
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