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, who 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, and cruise the ocean bottom at night 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, and large eyes that provide good vision. Their remarkable capabilities to change color and shape quickly 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, and therefore 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?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (7)
  • Alip-dav1
    8/28/2017 - 09:21 a.m.

    "Going To Deep For Octopods" was about predators called octopods. No one has really studied these animals because they live too deep in the water. All though with today's technology ROV's or remotely operated vehicles have camera's and sampling devices. Now people can understand the octopods and other animals in the depths of the ocean.

  • Mackenzieri-dav
    8/28/2017 - 09:23 a.m.

    "Going Deep For Octopods" is about these predators who are close relatives to Octopus. These are very mysterious animals that are very hard to find and study since they are going to the floor of the ocean to live. But as are technology gets better and better we are able to send ROVs deep into the ocean to search for these animals ans other animals who live on the ocean floor. We are being able to study further into these creatures and how they can survive in the floor of deep Oceans. This article describees the Octopods and talks about are technology that is getting further into study these creatures. It makes you questions how these creatures live in such a hard enviroment.

  • JTRAC01
    9/08/2017 - 08:53 a.m.

    no one really has studied octopods because they live to deep in the ocean.Now that we have ROVs we can study them in there natural environment with live cameras.I think that the ROVs really help scientists study the octopods by looking at them in there natural environment because they are to deep to look at without them.

  • Rhettb-dav1
    9/18/2017 - 08:57 a.m.

    "Going Deep for Octopods" is about an animal that is a cephalopod and lives on the ocean floor. It sleeps during the day and goes out to eat at night. Scientist want to know more about these creatures but it is getting hard for them to study them because they live so far down. Scientist are trying to make robots that can go down deep in the ocean and explore sea life that may be unknown. Scientist are solving problems in our every day life that leads to new findings every day.

  • Miap-dav1
    9/18/2017 - 01:51 p.m.

    In response to "Going Deep for Octopods" I agree that the deep sea is harder to explore. I agree with this because over time scientist haven't had the equipment to go as deep but now they have the right equipment that allows them to go deeper to explore the bottom of the ocean floor. I also agree because there are a lot of animals that haven't been studied on a lot because they didn't have the equipment. Today scientist can explore the ocean floors, and people can see because of new cameras.

  • Haydeng-dav2
    9/25/2017 - 10:51 a.m.

    "Going deep for octopods,"I think that its cool to see them. One reason I think that is because they are at the bottom of the ocean and they are small. anther reason why I think that is because they are hard to find.I think that the octopods should be left alone and stay safe. Even though people want to find them because they are so rare to find, I think
    that the octopods are really cool to read about.

  • bradena-lew
    9/29/2017 - 01:07 p.m.

    I think that in about 15 or 20 years that the technology then will be good enough to explore farther down than today's technology.That's when we can find out more on how animals live so far down,but are we sure that there even is anything down there? This was a very bad article about octopods because we don't know very much about them because they sar so far down.

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