Researchers Just Discovered the Largest Cluster of Deep-Sea Octopuses They've Ever Seen

Ocean Exploration Trust/NOAA
Ocean Exploration Trust/NOAA

Octopuses are generally solitary creatures, which is why it’s so uncommon to see two of them together. They aren't always antisocial, though. As Atlas Obscura reports, a cluster of more than 1000 of the creatures was recently discovered off the coast of Monterey, California, and it's the largest deep-sea octopus gathering on record.

Most of the individuals are thought to be females because they were observed in a brooding position. With their limbs inverted and wrapped around themselves, they're forming a full-body shield to protect their eggs. The light purple creatures belong to a species of deep-sea octopus called Muusoctopus robustus, and they were discovered at a depth of about 1.9 miles.

Researchers aboard the Nautilus exploration vessel made the discovery while cruising the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in search of deep sea sponges and corals. Their ongoing expedition is a joint effort between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Ocean Exploration Trust, and they’ve been documenting their finds on Instagram and via live-streamed videos, including the footage they captured of the octopus “nursery" below.

It wasn’t immediately clear why so many octopuses had gathered in the same spot. Researchers noticed a slight shimmering in the water, leading them to suggest that some kind of fluid might be seeping out of the seabed and attracting the creatures. They don’t know how many octopuses were there in total, either.

“What’s really amazing is we never saw an end to them,” the expedition’s chief scientist, Chad King, tells Atlas Obscura. “And we still don’t know the full extent of how many octopuses are down there. We know there are at least a thousand, there could be a lot more.”

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

100 Dachshunds Competed in Cincinnati’s Annual ‘Running of the Wieners’

NORRIE3699/iStock via Getty Images
NORRIE3699/iStock via Getty Images

Every year, to kick off Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, 100 dachshunds compete in heats to decide who the fastest dachshund in the Midwest is. This year marks the 43rd annual Oktoberfest—one of the biggest Oktoberfest celebrations outside of Germany (more than 500,000 people attend the three-day event).

On the afternoon of Thursday, September 19, 100 wiener dogs (and their owners and handlers) gathered in downtown Cincinnati for the 2019 "Running of the Wieners." The dogs, dressed in hot dog costumes, ran 10 heats, which lasted 75 feet or five seconds each. The winner of each heat advanced to the final round, where the top three finishers were decided.

Maple, a long-haired, one-year-old dachshund, ran his way into first place—and into our hearts.

Maple’s owner, Jake Sander, told WCPO that Maple is one of five dachshunds in the family, and that he learned to run fast by chasing his brother around. Leo and Bucky, two other doxies, placed second and third, respectively.

Besides the Running of the Wieners, Zinzinnati also hosts the World’s Largest Chicken Dance. However, the wiener dogs are more fun to watch.

Photographer Captures Polka-Dotted Zebra Foal in Kenya

Frank Liu
Frank Liu

Zebras are known for their eye-catching patterns, but this polka-dotted foal recently photographed in Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve really stands out from the herd. As National Geographic reports, the zebra baby likely has pseudomelanism, a rare pigment condition that's been observed in the wild just a handful of times.

Nature photographer Frank Liu saw the zebra foal while looking for rhinos in the savannah wilderness preserve. After initially confusing the specimen for a different type of animal, he realized upon closer inspection that it was actually a plains zebra born with spots instead of stripes. The newborn foal was named Tira after the Maasai guide Antony Tira who first pointed him out.

Zebra foal with spots walking with mother.
Frank Liu

Zebra foal with spots.
Frank Liu

A typical zebra pattern is the result of pigment cells called melanocytes, which are responsible for the black base coat, and melanin, which gives the animal its white stripes. (So if you've ever wondered if zebras are white with black stripes or black with white stripes, the answer is the latter). In Tira and other zebras with pseudomelanism, the melanocytes are fully expressed, but a genetic mutation causes the melanin to appear as dots rather than unbroken stripes.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Frank Liu (@frankliuphotography) on

Though rare, this isn't the only time a zebra with pseudomelanism has been documented in nature. Pseudomelanistic zebras have also been spotted in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, but Liu believes this could be the first time one was found in the Masai Mara preserve.

Zebra stripes aren't just for decoration. The distinct pattern may act as camouflage, bug repellant, and a built-in temperature regulation system. Without these evolutionary benefits, Tira has a lower chance of making it to adulthood: Pseudomelanistic zebra adults are rarely observed for this reason. But as Liu's photographs show, the foal has the protection and acceptance of his herd on his side.

[h/t National Geographic]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER