17 February 2020

Deep-sea footage helps researchers understand octopod real estate

Posted by Lauren Lipuma

A Graneledone octopus. Credit: NOAA.

A Graneledone octopus resting under a rock.
Credit: NOAA.

By Lauren Lipuma

Biologists are using footage from remotely operated vehicles to better understand where deep-sea octopuses prefer to live.

Understanding an animal’s choice of habitat is crucial to understanding its life history. Abigail Pratt, a biologist at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, has been crawling through undersea video footage from the North Atlantic Ocean to better understand where deep-sea octopuses prefer to settle down. Pratt is hoping to find out what seafloor features make the best real estate – whether octopuses prefer hard ground or soft, or whether they tend to settle on specific geographical features like submarine canyons or continental shelves.

The main question Pratt wants to answer is whether octopuses prefer one kind of habitat over another and if the habitat choice varies by species. She’ll present preliminary findings from her work this week at the Ocean Sciences Meeting 2020 in San Diego.

Check out some of the ROV footage from the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer Pratt has been scrubbing through for some incredible octopus shots!

In this video, biologists zoom in on two beautiful Graneledone octopuses – with a cameo by an eel!

In this video, see an octopus flawlessly blending in with the surrounding sediment.

This video shows several octopuses hanging out on a rock slope – can you spot all of them?

Lauren Lipuma is a science writer and program manager in AGU’s public information office.