Little known pink octopus may be named 'Adorabilis'

This 2013 handout photo shows the flapjack octopus (in the genus Opisthoteuthis), photographed 330m below the surface in Monterey Bay, California.
This 2013 handout photo shows the flapjack octopus (in the genus Opisthoteuthis), photographed 330m below the surface in Monterey Bay, California. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Some say she looks like a ghost from the Pac-Man video game, but she's anything but spooky. In fact, the fist-sized pink octopus is so cute that scientists may call her "Opisthoteuthis Adorabilis."

Researchers in California are looking for an appropriate Latin species designation for the mysterious cephalopod and, while little is yet known about it, few would deny that the specimens found so far are adorable.

Stephanie Bush of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute said that after a year of study, she is preparing to submit a report to a scientific review that would confer a name on the species, a form of Flapjack octopus.

They can swim by moving their fins, pulsing their webbed arms, pushing water through their funnel for jet propulsion, or all three at once. They often swim up off the bottom and hover a bit just above the seafloor, looking for small crustaceans, worms, and other food.

"New species are discovered every year, not all of them get described, it can take a lot of time, years sometimes," she said.

Some other species have been deemed adorable - such as Lophornis adorabilis, the White-crested Coquette hummingbird - and Bush said: "I don't see any obvious reason why it would be inappropriate ... it's easy to pronounce and popular with the public."

"Aside from how she looks, we don't know much more about the new octopus, it lives in deep cold waters and the 12 individuals that have been studied so far have all been female.

"They spend most of their time on the bottom, sitting on the sediment, but they need to move around to find food, mates," Bush said.

She is trying to incubate a batch of octopus eggs in her laboratory, but they develop very slowly because of the cold temperature of the deep ocean and may not hatch for two or three years.

Anyone charmed enough by the cute creature to want to see one in the wild would have to dive in the Pacific to between 200 and 600 metres to where the water is only 6 deg C.