A species termed an "octosquid" was found recently off Keahole Point on the Big Island. It has been identified as a type of squid that has not yet been named. CLICK FOR LARGE
'Octosquid' identified as a plain squid
The yet-unnamed species has existed for thousands of years
The mystery from the deep isn't so mysterious after all.
The specimen described as an "octosquid" that was caught in a filter in one of the Natural Energy Laboratory's deep-sea water pipelines two weeks ago off Keahole Point is not half octopus, half squid. It is, however, a species of squid that has been around for thousands of years but has not been named yet.
"It's a typical squid, and its tentacles were probably torn off (while coming up the pipeline)," said Richard Young, professor emeritus of oceanography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, who has been examining the specimen for more than a week.
According to Young, the squid belongs to genus Mastigoteuthis, but biologists call it a new species because it has not been named.
The natural-energy lab in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island is adjacent to one of the steepest offshore slopes in Hawaii. The 3,000-foot pipeline sucks up cold, deep sea water for the tenants of the lab.
Jan War, operations manager, discovered the foot-long specimen in a filter and noticed that it had the mantle of a squid but eight arms and no tentacles. The squid was able to stay alive for three days.
"It's one of the better-preserved specimens that we have," Young said.
Because he classified the squid, he will get to name it whatever he wants. Most people name a new species after a special feature it has. Young is not sure yet what he will call it, but he did find something interesting about the squid after close examination.
"It's got really, really tiny photophores," he said. "That's a light-emitting organ ... kind of like a firefly."
Sample DNA tissues from the squid are being examined at Ohio State University, and Young is also measuring the squid and taking photographs of it. Because the dead squid is in such great condition, it will eventually be given to a museum, possibly the Smithsonian.
"It's the first time we ever got live photographs of this species and DNA samples," Young said. "That was very exciting."
Christopher Kelley, program biologist for the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, who went to the Big Island last week to pick up the squid, was impressed that it survived the pressure change.
"You just don't get these kinds of animals from that deep in the water," Kelley said. "It would be cool to have a deep-water exhibit, but it's difficult to try to duplicate the conditions down there. How do you have an exhibit with no lights?"