The depths of the ocean hold unthinkable secrets. Scientists are yet to discover all forms of life that roam the deep water of the world’s oceans, but it seems they are a step closer. An underwater robot recently captured the rare glass octopus freely soaring through a remote area of the Central Pacific Ocean, near the Phoenix Islands.
The Glass Octopus Is Almost Completely Transparent
Although the glass octopus isn’t the only “glass” species, it is one of the few that are almost completely transparent. Only its optic nerve, cylindrical eyes, and digestive tract appear to be opaque. Glass frogs and certain species of comb jellies aren’t nearly as visually impressive or as rare as this octopus.
The glass octopus is so rare that marine biologists had to study it primarily from chunks they found in the guts of its predators.
An Exciting Expedition
The rare sighting of the octopus happened during a 34-day expedition off the coast of the remote Phoenix Islands. The archipelago that is located more than 3,200 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia, was the starting point of what proved to be an exciting journey. During the expedition, a crew of marine scientists explored nine previously not studied submarine mountains known as seamounts. They recorded two sightings of a glass octopus in the area, and they also likely discovered newfound marine animals.
The underwater robot SuBastian that took the stunning images of the octopus also mapped more than 11,500 square miles of the seafloor, thus making the expedition an absolute success.
People didn’t discover glass octopuses until 1918, and we still know very little about these charming cephalopods. What we know so far is that they live in twilight tropical and subtropical areas in the mesopelagic, between depths of 656 to 3,290 feet and between 3,280 to 9,800 feet in the bathypelagic. Expeditions like these are vital to understanding the wonders of the ocean and the importance of preserving its rich marine life.
Scientists Use Trackers to Show What Cats Do to Local Ecosystems
Most people find cats to be cute and fluffy, but when we’re not looking, they’re behaving like downright terrorists around town. Many studies have determined that every year, cats are responsible for the deaths of billions of native animals.
A new study has shown just how much of an ecological catastrophe domestic cats represent and how they affect the destruction of the environment. That’s a true disaster when it comes to the ecology of the native fauna – so some scientists felt that more research was needed.
Our Fluffy Friends Are Out to Destroy
Studies so far show reliable data, but without knowing where the cats actually go, it was hard to tell what they were hunting or the impact of their actions. So, to tackle the problem, scientists conducted an experiment that involved placing trackers on some pet cats and following their actions.
Nine hundred and twenty-five felines in six different countries were tracked this way, yielding some very surprising results. Counter to scientists’ expectations, it turned out that the cats would barely even leave their home ranges. This also means that they were actually more deadly than anticipated.
Even the study’s first author, Roland Kays, was surprised to find out how much of an impact these creatures could have on the environment surrounding them.
Tracking the Habits of Domestic Cats
The researchers also founded the Cat Tracker project – recruiting volunteers willing to tag outdoor pet cats with special GPS loggers. Those would record that cats’ location and provide the needed data. Also, the owners filled out questionnaires regarding their cats’ hunting habits. Different felines from New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States were primarily included in the research.
The gathered data was used by the researchers to calculate the home range of each cat. Its recorded locations were then combined with data on other predators and local habitats. The results showed a clear picture of their activities and the negative impact they have on the environment.