Deep beneath the ocean's waves dwell creatures of pure horror. Sharp of tooth, screaming jowls, and flesh that shimmers with preternatural light, we can only be grateful for the shroud of darkness that hides them.
With stumpy arms jutting from a wide skirt, two big eyes, and adorable flappy-flappy 'ears', they'd surely be the star attraction in just about every aquarium if bringing one to the surface didn't cause it to disintegrate like jello in the hot sun.
So when a team of researchers aboard the Ocean Exploration Trust's E/V Nautilus came across a specimen bobbing serenely in front of their remotely operated vehicle (ROV) as it explored an unnamed seamount 2,665 meters (8743 feet) underwater, they couldn't help but 'oooh!' in delight.
Typically growing to a length of roughly 20 to 30 centimeters, Grimpoteuthis is no mighty kraken. It glides gracefully through in the void a few meters from the seafloor by using the prominent fins jutting from its mantle to push its body with minimal effort.
Given the scarcity of prey, which might include the occasional mollusk, isopod, or worm it might embrace with its umbrella webbing and tickle into its mouth with the hair-like 'cirri' on its arms, poor ol' Dumbo has to conserve whatever energy it has.
In fact, the ancestors of these deep-sea 'cirrate' varieties of cephalopods have done away with a lot of its relative's adaptions just to survive the brutally dark, empty depths. Gone are the ink sacs that would once hide its escape; lost is the twinkling skin of dazzling chromophores that once communicated and camouflaged.
Now semi-translucent, they haunt the abyss like lost souls, the females holding clutches of eggs at the ready should they ever just so happen to bump into a male in the expanse of nothingness.
Depressing as it might sound, life in the darkness makes them less vulnerable to human activity at least. Apart from the occasional capture in a deep sea fishing net, it's rare for humans to run into one at all.
Intact, at least.
"Yeah, I'm so glad we got to see this after seeing the one that was, you know…" one of the scientists says in the recorded live stream, before another finishes on her behalf, "…getting munched on."
While little of the region has been studied in detail to date, the sunken remains of ships that took part in the Battle of Midway are known to be slowly rusting somewhere on the seafloor. Should any be located, the researchers will add their study to their list of tasks.
Of all the ghosts the researchers could run across, a rare Dumbo octopus is certainly one of the more cheerful possibilities.