It's not a flying elephant with big ears, but there's a sea creature that does share a few features with the beloved Disney character, including its name and its method of transportation.
Deep sea explorers came upon this rare creature known as a dumbo octopus on Sept. 13 while their research vessel was 5,500 feet deep down on the North Pacific Ocean floor.
The animal is known for propelling itself using its "famous ear-shaped fins to find food, then gobble their prey up whole, feasting on a variety of deep sea critters such as copepods, isopods, bristle worms, and amphipods," according to the Ocean Exploration Trust, which captured the animal on video during a livestream.
Using a remotely operated exploration submersible fittingly named the Hercules, the OET team spotted the ghostly dumbo octopus and its "flappy ears," as one researcher said, "on an unnamed seamount in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument."
Another researcher said they were "glad we got to see a live one," as spotting the creature is a rarity due to their deep habitat.
The dumbo octopus is thought to be the deepest-living octopus, diving up to 13,000 feet below the surface. It's typically under a foot long, though they can measure up to 6 feet. The one OET found this month measured around 2 feet.
But as the Nautilus expedition continues to dive into this "largely unexplored" section of the northwestern Hawaiian Islands' monument, only time and research will tell what other visuals of animals like the dumbo octopus will come to the surface.
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