The Internet is abuzz with newly-released footage of a strikingly transparent deep-sea octopus. Credit: Schmidt Ocean Institute.

Sometimes we discover much more than we set out to find.

In June, the research vessel Falkor traveled to the Phoenix Islands Archipelago. The team’s mission was to “investigate deep-sea microbes’; examine how ancient cold water corals survive predation by corallivores; and enquire into the equator’s effect on the ecology of deep coral and sponge communities.”

Footage from that voyage was released this week by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, and one of the featured creatures has captured the hearts and minds of people around the globe. The expedition was funded by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, a non-profit co-founded by Wendy and Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO.

Ocean Conservancy author Erin Spencer provides a concrete backstory on this unusual creature in their recent coverage of the news. “The glass octopus (Vitreledonella richardi) is a very rarely seen cephalopod found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. The species gets its name from its nearly-transparent body—you can see straight through to the optic nerve, eyes and digestive tract. These octopuses mostly live in the aphotic zone, meaning deep waters where sunlight doesn’t reach, at around 3,000 feet. They can grow to about 1.5 long and are estimated to live about 2-5 years.” (Read more here)

See the Glass Octopus!

Watch more of the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s footage in 4K HD!

Learn more:

Discovering Deep-Sea Corals of the Phoenix Islands 2 – Schmidt Ocean Institute

The Glass Octopus is See-Through and Spectacular – Ocean Currents Blog, Ocean Conservancy

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