TNB Night Owl – Glass Octopus

Vitreledonella richardi, the glass octopus. Image captured by the News Blender.

Glass octopuses may be found in gift shops and online, often in fanciful colors, for curio cabinet displays or paperweights, or even to be worn as jewelry. The good ones are hand-blown glass, beautiful works of art, but they aren’t as fascinating as real cephalopods, and not as rare a sight as Vitreledonella richardi (common name: glass octupus). Not actual glass, these are living creatures of the deep sea – though you can see right through these transparent suckers. V. richardi has seldom been encountered or studied in the wild, due to its rarity. An interdisciplinary team of researchers found one in the Pacific Ocean just last month.

R/V Falkor, a marine research vessel operated by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, recently returned from surveying the deep-sea ecosystems of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), an internationally-recognized Marine Protected Area (MPA) established by the Republic of Kiribati. The team mapped the ocean floor, covering 30,000 square kilometers (11,500 square miles) while cataloging corals, sponges, deep-sea microbes, as well as fish and other ocean life. The team’s remotely operated submersible vehicle (ROV) SuBastian caught a glass octopus in high-definition video (embedded below).

Adult glass octopuses can grow up to 45 cm (approximately 17 inches) total length, with the mantle (the non-tentacle part of the animal) being roughly one-fourth of the creature’s total length, or 11 cm (a little over 4 inches). Their skin and flesh are transparent enough to see through, but several organs including their optic nerves, eyes, and digestive tracts are opaque and colorful.

Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Cephalopoda
Order: Octopoda
Family: Amphitretidae
Genus: Vitreledonella [Joubin, 1918]
Species: V. richardi

“Discovering Deep-Sea Corals of the Phoenix Islands 2 – 4K ROV Highlights – FK210605” (4:06):

“Facts: The Glass Octopus” (1:40):

Question Of The Night: Salt water or fesh water swimming?

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About Richard Doud 622 Articles
Learning is a life-long endeavor. Never stop learning. No one is right all the time. No one is wrong all the time. No exceptions to these rules.