It was photographed in March of this year on the ocean floor, 4 thousand meters deep, and immediately renamed Casper: it looks like a little ghost (watch the video). The researchers immediately realized that it was a new species never seen before, and a recent study has documented something unique in the care behavior of the offspring of this animal: to protect its eggs, it is attacked, probably for years, to the rock on which he laid them.
Parent sacrifice. The octopus, which from March onwards has been spotted several times in the Pacific, is much more similar to those living in shallow waters than to the Dumbo octopus, discovered some years ago at even greater depths, about 5 thousand meters.
Unlike most cephalopods, capable of camouflaging themselves by changing color thanks to pigments produced by their cells, Casper seems to lack this ability: it always remains a translucent white color. But it is his parenting strategy that is surprising and even tearful.
In a study published in Current Biology, the researchers describe the behavior: after having laid the eggs, usually about thirty, on a dead sponge, as other species do, the female wraps them with the body, and remains there for years - for years, hypothesize the researchers, given that the time of hatching of the eggs is very long with water temperatures of about one and a half degrees - without eating, slowly losing its strength until, when it hatches, it dies.
Loss of habitat. In the future, hard times could come for this surprising species: the sponges on which it lays its eggs on the ocean floor are often anchored to fragments of rock containing manganese. This, like other metals, is increasingly in demand, and many companies think of using the ocean floor as a mine to procure it. The place to lay eggs would be lost, and with it the survival of Casper and many of his fellows.