The NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer is just days into its latest investigation of the deep-water areas of the Gulf of Mexico.
But, the team has already stumbled upon some truly remarkable creatures thousands of feet beneath the surface.
The most striking of the bunch – at least, so far – may be one squid with a set of particularly devilish features.
Researchers spotted the mysterious blood red cephalopod during a dive this morning, and they don’t quite know what to call it.
The NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer team has spotted one squid with a set of particularly devilish features. The ROV stumbled across it just days into its investigation of the deep-water areas of the Gulf of Mexico
While some have suggested it could be a vampire squid, which are known for their somewhat menacing appearance, the researchers haven’t yet put a name to the crimson-colored creature.
For the time being, they’ve referred to it simply as an ‘unidentified squid.’
‘We have seen several different squid species so far on this dive,’ the team noted on Twitter.
In addition to the stunning red squid, the NOAA team has come across sea stars, crabs, comb jellies, and a mesmerising skate in the depths of the Gulf of Mexico.
The mission, which began on April 11, will continue through May 3 to investigate the habitats and mysterious shipwrecks thousands of feet down in the Gulf of Mexico Basin.
It is the last expedition in the region before the researchers head back to the East Coast, the NOAA says.
The team has already stumbled upon some truly remarkable creatures thousands of feet beneath the surface, including this mesmerising skate seen more than 1,500 meters (~4920 feet) deep
In addition to the stunning red squid, the NOAA team has come across sea stars (such as the one pictured above) crabs, comb jellies, and a mesmerising skate in the depths of the Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is home to countless underwater marvels, from coral and sponge communities to undersea canyons and mud volcanoes.
And, there are scores of unknown shipwrecks lying on the seafloor.
The team will be studying the region around the clock, with daytime dives using the remotely operated vehicle (ROV), and overnight mapping to reveal new insight on the ‘deep-water areas in important, yet largely unknown, U.S. waters.’
The NOAA wrapped up the first of its three Gulf of Mexico expeditions at the end of last year.
The angry-looking female crab seen above is ‘heavy with eggs,’ according to the researchers. She was spotted during Dive 3 in the Gulf of Mexico
HOW DO OCTOPUSES DEFEND THEMSELVES?
One of the most effective ways octopuses avoid predation is by camouflaging with their environment.
They have special pigment cells allow them to control the colour of their skin, much like chameleons.
As well as colour change they can manipulate the texture of their skin in order to blend in with the terrain.
As well as camouflage they can escape predators by using a ‘jet propulsion’ method of escape, where they rapidly shoot out water to propel them through the water rapidly.
The jet of water from the siphon is often accompanied by a release of ink to confuse and evade potential enemies.
The suckers on the tentacles of the eight-legged beasts are extremely powerful and are used to drag prey towards a sharp beak.
As well as protection from other animals, it has been recently found that octopuses can detect the ultrasonic waves that preempt a volcanic eruption or earthquake, giving them enough time to escape.
And, the mission came to a close with another unusual find.
The remotely operated vehicle exploring the region captured a look at a bizarre sea cucumber as it fed on the seafloor – and, with its oddly truncated body and wing-like protrusions, it’s come to be known as the ‘headless chicken monster.’
The so-called headless chicken monster, a sea cucumber called Enypniastes eximia, was spotted during Dive 11 of the NOAA Okeanos mission in the Gulf of Mexico.
Before finishing the 2017 leg of the mission, the team also captured footage of deep-sea crabs, sea spiders, metallic-looking squid, and a colony of pink ‘ice worms.’