NewsDeep-Sea Discovery: Costa Rica's New Octopus Species Unveiled

Deep-Sea Discovery: Costa Rica's New Octopus Species Unveiled

Deep-Sea Discovery: Costa Rica's New Octopus Species Unveiled
Images source: © GETTY | Emanuele Cremaschi

3:46 AM EST, January 18, 2024

In a remarkable 19-day expedition, scientists have unveiled a groundbreaking discovery deep beneath the Costa Rican waters. More than 2800 meters below the sea's surface, a new octopus nursery has been identified at the Dorado Outcrop, a hydrothermal vent off Costa Rica's Pacific coast. This discovery marks only the third known octopus nursery in the world and adds a new chapter to our understanding of deep-sea biodiversity​​.

Among the most intriguing findings is identifying a potential new species of Muusoctopus. Named the 'Dorado Octopus' after the location of its discovery, this species exhibits unique characteristics, setting it apart from its known counterparts. Notably, this species lacks an ink sac, a common feature in many other octopuses. The discovery of the Dorado Octopus and other octopus species in the vicinity highlights the diverse and previously unknown life thriving in these deep-sea environments​​​​.

The expeditions led by Dr. Beth Orcutt of the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and Dr. Jorge Cortés of the University of Costa Rica have revealed the critical role of hydrothermal springs in supporting these deep-sea ecosystems. Scientists found three unique hydrothermal springs in the area, each with distinct temperatures and chemistries, suggesting various formation processes. One of these springs was the habitat of the newly discovered Dorado Octopus, observed brooding its eggs in the warm waters. This finding underscores the complex and varied environments that support deep-sea life​​​​.

This discovery has significant implications for the conservation of these unique ecosystems. The researchers' efforts have highlighted the urgent need to protect these sensitive habitats from human activities, such as fishing, that could disrupt their fragile balance. Additionally, the specimens collected during the expedition, over 160 deep-sea animal samples, will be archived at the Museum of Zoology at the University of Costa Rica. This marks a pioneering step in retaining biological specimens within the country of origin, empowering local scientists and students with direct access to these invaluable resources for research and conservation efforts​​​​.

The findings from the Costa Rican deep seas pave the way for future explorations and highlight the endless mysteries still hidden in our planet's oceans. The dedication and collaboration of international teams like those on the R/V Falkor expedition continue to unravel these mysteries, contributing significantly to our understanding of the deep sea and its inhabitants.

Related content