Going deep for octopods Zoologist Dr. Mike Vecchione holding a dumbo octopod (Cirrothauma magna) that was found in the deep sea. (Amy Heger/NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016)
Going deep for octopods
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Most familiar "octopods" (general term for octopuses and their close relatives) live in relatively shallow parts of the ocean. They are predators. They can benefit from the abundant food, such as fishes, crabs, and shrimps, in habitats such as shallow coral reefs.
 
Most octopods are nocturnal. They hunker in dens during the daytime. At night, they cruise the ocean bottom in search of prey.
 
Octopods belong to a group of squishy-bodied animals called cephalopods. These also include squids, cuttlefishes and nautiluses. Like most other cephalopods, octopods have eight arms with suckers. They have hard beaks for biting prey. Their large eyes provide good vision. They have remarkable capabilities to change color and shape quickly. These make them masters of camouflage. Their unusual intelligence sets them apart from other invertebrates.
 
Are more octopods known from shallow water because it's better habitat or because they are easier to find? The deep ocean is challenging to access. Therefore, it has been less studied.
 
Today, innovations in technology have allowed scientists to explore the depths. Research ships are equipped with sonar. Meanwhile, ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) and manned submersibles are equipped with cameras and sampling devices on robotic arms.
 
Even people on shore can get their eyes on the deep sea. This is thanks to live video and data feeds to computers.
 
Increased access to the depths has shed new light on mysteries of deep ocean life, including on octopods who range more than 4,000 meters down. That is the depth of about 300 school buses end on end.
 
Why would octopods go that deep and how do they survive? By continuing to probe the deep sea, zoologists are trying to understand more about which animals live there and how they get by in conditions of high pressure and low light and temperature.
 
Zoologist Mike Vecchione harnesses data collected from museum specimens, live ship feeds and DNA analysis to study deep sea octopods and other cephalopods.
 
Learn more about his discoveries in the "Smithsonian Science How" webcast. It airs on Thursday, June 8, 2017. During Deep Ocean Discovery - Octopods and Squids, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. EDT on the Q?rius website, Mike will take you on a journey to the deep sea while answering your questions live. You can also get teaching resources to use with the webcast.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How do robots help scientists study octopods?
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COMMENTS (17)
  • quinw-kut
    6/07/2017 - 03:57 p.m.

    This article is cool because it explains a lot about not only octopods, but how they study them, and where they can be found. These ROVs and manned submersibles have cameras and sample collectors on a robotic arm to take a glimpse and, maybe, bring it up to the surface.

  • tylerm-kut
    6/07/2017 - 04:15 p.m.

    this article is very interesting i learned cool fact about the octopods they sound very interesting i would not have thought s squid like creature could have a beak

  • shaunc-kut
    6/08/2017 - 07:52 a.m.

    I find this article amazing because it tells you all about the octopods. It's an amazing predator, The octopods can travel more than 4000 meters down, WOW! Which is about 300 school buses in all.

  • eileeng-kut
    6/08/2017 - 07:53 a.m.

    This was a interesting article. It is explained a lot about octopods. They are really beneficial to science, and can be studied only in ROVs (submarines). Did you know octopods can live more than 4,000 meters down? I really think scientist should study these animals because we could learn so much about them.

  • andrewf-kut
    6/08/2017 - 03:15 p.m.

    This article is interesting because it talks about how to study the octopods and how they live. I also found that they use robots to go down into the deep see.

  • jackl-kut
    6/09/2017 - 09:49 a.m.

    amazing article really interesting and fun to read. it was amazing how to octopus acted.

  • Laneys-eic
    9/01/2017 - 10:37 a.m.

    i think that there are creepy and weird i hope that i never come across one ever,but i like how they explain how they live and were they live.

    • Jordynr-eic
      9/01/2017 - 10:51 a.m.

      I disagree with you laney, i think the octopus is a very cool animal. I also think that this article is cool because they tell where they live and eat.

  • Jordynr-eic
    9/01/2017 - 10:47 a.m.

    This article is so good because it talked about how they study them ,and how they a lot about octopus. And i learned that the octopus can change color. I also think it was cool because, the people get to go down and look at the at them.

  • Franklinm-eic
    9/01/2017 - 01:54 p.m.

    Octopus are really important so if they go then I go with them to .

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