Deep Ocean Discovery- Octopods and Squid
Hi. Everyone and happy world ocean, day we're so happy that you decided to celebrate it with us here today at Smithsonian's science how we, have an excellent, guest today his name is dr. Mike Vecchio, and Mike you are a scientist, a zoologist with, the National, Oceanic and, Atmospheric Administration. NOAA but, you actually work here at the Smithsonian's, National Museum of Natural History that's right. NOAA has a small lab here it's been here for a long time since the 1940s. And we. Have several scientists, and a few support people that work here at the museum and then there are other federal agencies, that have scientists, here as well now, as a scientist, here at the museum you study some weird and pretty wonderful creature, squids. And octopus, that's, right the weirder the better. Type. Of squids and octopus, I. Focus. On deep-sea squids. And octopus and their relatives, like vampire squids and and that sort of thing so, when you say deep-sea how deep are we talking. For. Deep-sea, biologists, like me we're talking about where. Where it's deeper than sunlight, can penetrate to. Drive. Photosynthesis. By the plants, so it's basically, deeper than about 200, meters but. It's most, of the ocean is in the deep sea so, I'm a scuba diver I know that you can only dive to a hundred, meters so how do you actually get, to 200, meters in deeper to be able to study these animals well. There are several tools that we use to study things including, submersibles, of, course there are submersibles, that people can get into and dive there also a lot of robot, submarines, now called ROV. Zoar remotely, operated vehicles, which is what we see here that's what you're seeing on the screen the ROV, sends. A feed up through a cable. Up to the ship and then, it's. Being operated from people that are actually on the ship but the ship can send the signal up through, a satellite, and back to shore again and from, the shoreside station. The the feed from the robot. Sub can go out over. The internet so that anybody in the world with an internet connection can, watch what's going on with that robot, submarine, and as you just said anyone with an internet connection can tune into these live feeds and, that includes us that's, correct and there is an exploration vessel, out at sea right now off the coast of Canada. The Nautilus live group and we're. Gonna try to tune into their feed right now uh here. We are live so like what are we looking at this looks like I have this screen up to, 1,200. Meters yeah they're, still really deep down what. You're seeing is water. Right now there's. Some, very small animals swimming around there and then the two lines, you see are, parallel. Lasers, that they use to measure things and, so you're seeing that the lasers as, they go through the water so, Mike that was just blue water but as a scientist, that, studies deep-sea, cephalopods. This is the kind of feed, that you watch from anywhere, you are to, be able to make some discoveries that's right I can't go out on every, cruise that goes, out to sea but for. These telepresence. Dies you can watch them from shore, side and what, you're seeing now is a squid. One of the animals that I study that. Actually attacked one of those submarines, it grabbed. Hold of it and tried to see if it was good to eat wow that's so fascinating now, that one wasn't life that was from a previous, cruise right how. Long do you have to watch these live feeds before, a squid. Or an octopus swims by it, depends on where they are and what they're doing so that what they're doing right now with that particular, sub is is, servicing, a deep-sea. Observation. Observatory. So, you. Watch that for quite a long time before you could see an animal but sometimes when they're doing transects, you see one, thing after another and they're really, interesting, so is there a community of people out there that can help alert you to when you should tune in to this live feed as a scientist, since you can't spend all your time watching, there's, a really, good group on Facebook, which I think of as a citizen, science, group and they. Are people all over the world who, watch. These feeds. From the submersibles, and when. There's something interesting they capture, a screengrab or, a video, of something. Like, that right, like that Dumbo, octopus, you just saw and they can post it on the Facebook group and, then, if I was. Eating. Dinner or something and missed it I can go back to that group and see what was I know, there was something really interesting that, I can then contact the ship to see, that the recorded, video from wow, that's really fascinating it really expands your capacity, oh yeah now let's, take a step back for, our viewers and visit.
What Exactly. Squids and octopus, are and, learn. A little bit more about the group that they belong to can, you tell us about the basic body plan of, a cephalopod, sure. The cephalopods. Are mollusks. So they're related to snails, and oysters and. And things like that but they have a very different kind of body plan and I've, got a couple of them out here. Well. What you see on the screen right now is that the the basic body setups there's a there's what we call a mantle, or the body which where, the guts are and then, the head which has eyes, on both sides of it and then, an arm crown that would include at least eight arms, with suckers on them and some of them have two, longer, tentacles, so here's, a squid. In this case which. I'll. Hold. Up and they can zoom in on it and you can see this, is the the mantle right here here's the head with the eyes on it and then, the arm crown over here and the arms there. Are eight arms plus two longer, tentacles, so, can you tell us a little bit about the diversity of cephalopods, we've been talking a little bit about squids, and octopuses. F'l, pod groups but it's larger than that yeah. There are there, are a bunch of different species but it's not a terribly, species, group, so there are about a thousand, species, what. There is is. A great diversity in basic. Body plans and, this. Would include things, like the chambered, nautilus which, has an external shell, and. Then there are squids, like that oceanic, squid there or this coastal. Squid reef squid this. Is a cuttlefish which, has an internal shell and this, is called a bobtail squid this, one is called a ram's horn squid which has a shell, also, and this, is a vampire, squid and a Dumbo, octopus, and, here. Is that your common. Octopus. From coastal waters wow they're all so incredible. Now. Let's, visit. Some of those pull responses, to learn a little bit more about the different, characteristics. Of these cephalopods. I can't. Help it I can't ignore this, gigantic, eyeball. On the table it is bigger than my head, who. Does this I belong to this is a model, of a giant squids i scaled.
To Represent. What we think is the the biggest, giant, squids and so this is actually, the largest eyeball, in the animal kingdom Wow. They, have an eye that's very similar to a vertebrate, eye it's a classic. Example, of, convergent, evolution, so. They have an eye with a lens that makes a image. On a retina. Is very much like your eye or my eye I. Accept. It it doesn't come from the same, evolutionary. Background this as yours in mind it's it's. Got very similar structure, and, so, all. Cephalopods. Have complex, eyes yes. They do even the Nautilus which is the most primitive has. A. Complex. Eye as well now, I really. Am just a fan, of the octopus, it's one of my favorite animals admittedly, and I like it so much because I think it's so smart and people, think that a lot about, cephalopods. Can you speak to their, intelligence. At all sure, they have a very. Large well-developed. Brain, and, if you think about the kinds of animals that are you think of as intelligent. That. Have a large brain there they're all vertebrates. Now that cephalopod. Brain, is shaped. Sort of like a doughnut, and it, has, an esophagus, that goes right through the middle of it unlike, what you found you think of in. The. Other. Types of intelligent, animals like dolphins or. Parents. Or any of the vertebrates, all of those have the same basic, brain structure, but a cephalopod, brain, is, based on the structure of a mollusk, and, what are we looking at here well. We're looking here is it is an octopod, which, I is pretending, to be a floating, piece of algae, looks like I've been walking it's, actually walking across the bottom with two of its arms. Cephalopods. Particularly. Octopods have. A lot, of nerve, cells in their brain but they actually have twice as many nerve cells spread, out throughout their body and each, of the arms in an octopus, has sort of a mini brain, so that, if the arm is detached, in this case then it's a species, that can actually drop its arm like a lizard's. Tail, instead. Of just wiggling around like a lizard's tail this this, arm is actually crawling, around in the aquarium grabbing. Hold of things with the suckers and, investigating. The aquarium, oh it's so, weird, and pretty cool. Yeah. So, I know that there are also masters, of camouflage. That's correct nothing, does camouflage, better than a cephalopod and they. They use both color-changing, and texture. Changing, in, order to change their appearance so watch this rock as we get closer to it it's, covered with algae and then suddenly part of it turns into an octopus oh, my. Goodness I think I need to see that again sure so. What. We, see on the side of that rock is an octopus, it's pretending, to be part of the rock with the algae growing on it and then as the diver, gets closer it decides, to become a big scary-looking, animal that it's just spectacular and you really saw there the texture, change I mean you really can't detect, that there, is anything but algae on that rock that's right they can match things very well now, they have camouflage, abilities but do they change colors for.
Any Other reasons, yes. They can change colors, and as a way of responding. To predators. Or in their environment, or if prey even and, they can also respond. To a scuba. Diver which is what's going on here this is a reef squid flashing. Different colors to. Startle. Uh what, it thinks might be a big predator, so, speaking. Of prey, and predators, so what does what, do cephalopods, eat, are they predators, do they actively hunt other animals yes, all cephalopods, are predators, they there, aren't any plant eaters but, different. Kinds hunting, different, types of animals, so. Lots. Of. Different. Species. Of fishes and crustaceans, shrimps. And crabs are, even, by cephalopods. How do they eat them they're very soft bodies do they have any, mechanism when, they grab them with their arms they have a in, their mouth they have a pair, of hard structures, called. Beaks, and they're they're much like the beaks of a parent, except. When. You look at them and, put. Them together they're, sort of upside down from the way a pair it is so cool we have some beaks whose this is these are the beaks from a giant squid, and. This. Is the lower beak and the upper beak and when. They come together the. Upper beak goes inside, of the lower beak so it's backwards from what a parent does oops. There. We go and when. They come together they they're hard, and sharp and they can bite off pieces of. Flesh. And that's, how they get small, enough pieces so that they're it, can pass. Through their their, brain to get to, their stomach right because that esophagus, that tube that carries their food to their stomach, is passing, right through that doughnut shaped brain that's right now, what, eats the pods lots. Of things eat cephalopods, and one of the the most important, predators of cephalopods are people, so, there are there are fisheries. For these things and you, can find them on, the menus, at various restaurants but. Also a lot of fishes, and. Whales. And, dolphins and. Birds, and lots of things eat buffalo. Pods, and. So are, actually, we're, seeing, a video of what here is this appala pod this is yeah, this is an octopus, it's hunting along a reef, type area and what it's doing is spreading, out his arms and webs to. Cover an area, and try and flush out small animals, that it can then grab, and eat, and. Is that a typical. Hunting, behavior we have another source here, another kind of hunting behavior by an octopus, where it sees a tasty. Looking shrimp, there and it's trying to sneak up on it get close enough so they can grab it with that one arm with the suckers on it and then, pull it in to where the beak is how, I did, so, there it's crunching it up with that beak that's right yeah very, cool yeah and this. Is a cuttlefish, and you'll see it sticks, out as tentacles, and grabs its prey pull. Them back into the beak those are just incredible. Videos. Fascinating. To watch you really are so it sounds like they eat a variety of, foods in that a variety of things also consume them as you've already told us right they're really important. Webs now, are there any surprising. Predators, of cephalopods. We. Have a recent, video from, the Okeanos Explorer, yeah, we got, a video and. Okeanos. Was diving in the Pacific. And they, were, watching a squid very, close to the bottom and suddenly it was grabbed by a brittle, star of all things this is a relative. Of a sea. Star, it. Grabs this live squid and pulls. It in starts eating it and actually the other brittle stars came over to fight, over who gets to eat this squid I'm. Sure there's a lot of protein packed into that animal, yeah it's they're almost all muscle, that was a squid. That was crab. Tried to go out grab it there this is from the Okeanos dives. On off, of New, Jersey and, here. We see a fish grabbing, one of the squids the squid is trying to get out of its mouth but didn't succeed so. Mike you've given, us a really nice overview of, cephalopods. And, how their bodies are shaped and a little bit of, information. About. What. They eat in who eats them but, all of this knowledge is that based on research done on deepwater, squids. And octopuses that, you study or more shallow water species most. Of what we know about cephalopods. Comes from studies, they're. In. Areas where there's, a bunch of marine scientists, that are close, to a bunch of cephalopods so they come from marine labs like Woods, Hole in Massachusetts.
Or That Naples lab in Italy or off of, Japan, and so. It's all. Shallow. Water cephalopods. There's. Very, little is known about the deep-sea, cephalopods. Which is why I'm really interested in in the, cephalopods. From the deep-sea so we're gonna learn a little bit more about the discoveries, you've made about deep-sea cephalopods, and using some of this cool technology that you've already introduced, us to okay and, kind. Of like this this. Is a an. Image, from a very recent dive showing, it a, mated, female, of a weird deep-sea, squid holding. Something in its arms it turns out that's another squid that's in its arms and I. Suspect. That what that is is, the male that, she made it with and what we may be seeing is a, record. Of of. Cannibalism. Where the the female winds, up eating the male sort. Of like a praying mantis does wow so, fascinating. Mike you're shedding a lot of light on what. We're, learning about cephalopods. Through all of your research with, no one here at the Smithsonian, and one. Of the discoveries that a, ship, made last year was of a little. Animal. On the sea bottom that went viral the googly, eyed squid, and you helped identify it. Tell. Us what we're looking at yes this is a video from the Nautilus. And when. They were diving in the eastern Pacific, they saw this animal on the bottom you can see why they call it a googly eyed squid, but it. Actually looks a little like an octopus, but it's it's it actually has fins wrapped around the body there and it's related, to squids, the. Thing that I wanted to point out about it is that it's different than what I thought, the, best name that I could come up with for it so that might be an undescribed, species. So. That's really cool that's a great example of how these live feeds these are Ovie's that are out at sea exploring, the ocean Bob bottom, can you give you can, expand, the capacity for, you to discover new species and not just you but these, ships. Are expanding capacity for geologists. And chemists, and other, marine scientists. To explore the ocean that's. Right not everybody can go on every offshore. Cruise and I. Can. Sit. In my office and, watch these these, dives and still. Have. A life. In. Addition to being out at sea. Also. The ships can't. Hold, that many scientists. By. Having telepresence. Feeds. They can they can interact, with scientists, all over the world at the as, part of the one dive very, cool now, have you ever observed any truly, unique, behavior. Among. Deep ocean. Cephalopods. Yes. There's been a lot, of different kinds of, unique. Behavior, but one. Of the, most. Exciting was what, you're seeing on the screen right now this is two. Deep sea squids they're actually very large they're over three. Feet long. And it's, a male, holding, on to a female, the male is actually upside down holding on to her and she's, swimming around and it's, mating, behavior, by these deep-sea squids and nobody. Had ever seen, this kind of mating behavior, before, wow, that's incredible, now we want to check back in with our viewers and ask them a question about how they would explore the deep-sea we see some of the techniques, that you're using but let's ask them okay, viewers, here's another chance to participate in a live poll tell us how do you study deepwater, cephalopods.
Would, You deploy, robot subs look at videos, consume. Or eat octopus, and squid research. Their DNA or catch them in nets think about all of the techniques Mike has shared with us today and tell us what you think. We. Can see your responses, still coming in but we have some data, to look at most, people 65%, would deploy robots, subs but others would look at videos research or DMA and somebody, even said that they would eat it. The. Only kind of research that I would put. Into that category is if you're trying to find out what they taste like. It's. Interesting that nobody put down catch it catch them in nets we. Haven't talked about that yet but that's, still an important. Method. For studying the deep-sea and particularly when. You consider the, thing but above, that which is researched their DNA, when. You look at videos, you can learn a lot about behavior. And and. Associations. And that sort of thing but, if you need DNA you have to actually catch the specimens, in order to get. Samples of them and. Having. The specimens is important, for other reasons as well so, catching. Them in nets is still a very important, tool for studying. The deep-sea Mike do you have an example where you have used, specimens. Video. And, other sources, of data to be able to make a discovery, sure. One example is when. We described, a brand new family of squids. A few years ago a friend, of mine in the in, Hawaii had been working, on plankton. Samples baby, squids, and it. Got thousands. Of specimens, but there was one that he couldn't identify even, to family, and then, shortly thereafter I. Was working with colleagues in the, National Marine fishery service and, got a similar specimen, from another plankton, sample which, you see a drawing of right there, they have very large fins, and very, strange arms, and tentacles, and, so. We actually. Decided. That what we were dealing with was a an, undescribed, family. Of squids which is an, unusual. Discovery. And, then we got another specimen, that, had. Been collected a long time ago and was, donated to the museum from, what. Collection. And this, is a photograph. That, was found in the records from that collection in. We. Were able to actually find, that specimen which came out of a fish's stomach and. So. We had three specimens. And describe this new family, then. After. That. There. Was a an, oil company ROV, working. In the Gulf of Mexico and. They, came, across this, really weird squid, and a, guy on the. Ship gave. The video to his girlfriend, who was interested in marine biology and she tried to find somebody who could tell her what it was nobody, could Wow and, this is what we're seeing from the oil rig yeah. She contacted, me here at the Museum and said are you interested in a video of a 21, foot long squid, and I thought wow, that's got to be a giant squid I'll be. The first one with a video it turned out it was even weirder than a giant squid and we. Finally were able through more, videos, and, a, few, specimens, that have been collected we're, connect, we connected those to, the baby squids that we used to describe the new family, and so we've, been able to put together a fairly complete picture based, on a lot of different sources and when you identified, this animal it really made headlines around the world, yeah. When. We described, these these. Submersible. Observations. I spent, the whole, next, week just talking, to the press about the the discovery, and it.
Got Into a lot of different sources of information including. Tabloids. In the supermarkets, so. Even. My mother was proud because their. Supermarket. Checkout counter now we have a better video than the, original. Video that you used to identify it let's have a look at it yes. This is one of the best videos this comes, from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and. They, recorded. This big, fin squid which is what we're calling these things off, of Hawaii and you can see the weird arms that were there spaghetti like extensions. And the big fins that we got we used for the Maine it's just spectacular, now, you had another. Occurrence. Where the, ROV, at sea, discovered. Something unique and that. Video went viral which. Led to more, videos of that same species come in can you tell us what that was yeah what you're seeing on the screen right now is a little octopod, that we found on. A very deep dive from the Okeanos Explorer. In the mitad Pacific. And it, was deeper than any other octopods. Like this and has strange characteristics. A friend of mine saw the video. And posted. On Facebook, that I I shall call you Casper. That. Name stuck is a Casper, octopod, and, because, that went vide that viral, that, video went viral I, was, contacted by some other researchers. Who had seen, similar. Animals while they were studying other problems. And, we. Put together a paper which included, this observation from a German, study, of. Manganese. Nodules and this is an octopod, that's it's. Guarding. Its eggs that, are laid on the stalk of a dead, sponge that's attached to a manganese, nodules so all those things circled, what are they those, are what, the nodules, that I'm talking about they're their, potato. Sized rocks, that are found in the deep sea in some areas and have really, important minerals so there's a lot of talk about mining, those and, so. The fact that these octopods, lay their eggs on. Things. That are attached to these nodules, means. That, mining. The nodules, could affect the life, cycle of the octopods, now, we're just almost, out of time but we, have a couple more things that we want to cover before we get to some student, questions now, we saw some, egg.
Laying There who is that the only observation of egg laying by cephalopod, in the deep sea it was a really interesting one again by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. They. Are they. Dive in Monterey Canyon and, can, go to the same place over and over again they saw this octopod, that was guarding. Our eggs and they were able to go back to, the same spot over and over for four years, and they. Found out that this one. Mama, octopus, was taking. Care of her eggs for four years so this get back to the question of how long do they live this, one obviously lives, at least four, years and. Then finally they. Documented. The eggs that had hatched out and that's what you're seeing, in the video there that's a good mama. So. Mike can you quickly tell us about a recent project you were you're, working, on I know that you were at sea last month yes. I was at sea for about two weeks in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Studying. The stuff that lives up in the water in the Gulf, of Mexico as part of an effort. To figure, out the the. Effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil, spill and, we. Were using gear. That has multiple nets so we could sample, different layers in the water column. When. People think about the Deepwater, Horizon oil spill they, think about the fact, that there was a hole this ugly, oil floating, up at the surface, but. In addition to the oil at the surface of much, of it was, trapped at depth, at about a thousand, meters and just. About all of the natural gas was and some, of that oil settled, down onto the bottom and covered deep-sea corals, and things but we. Trying to find out how. All of that affects, the water column the animals that live up in the the largest, ecosystem, on earth which is the, deep sea. Water, so. What. Discoveries. Are you making about the animals, that live throughout, the water column in the largest ecosystem, on earth. Among. Other things what we're looking, at is the, basic ecology of these animals and when. We talk about that, the deep ocean, we. Talk about the layers in this we. Talked about the sunlit, layer being at the surface and then the twilight, zone going, from about 200 meters to a thousand, meters and then the really deep ocean which is where, most of the living, space on earth is and. We think of that as being really. Solid. Lines in between those layers but it turns out there's, a lot of overlap. Things move up and down and it's, not as distinct, as we usually. Think of it so that there's it's more of a gradient than it is distinct. Layers Mike, thank you so much for helping us understand, a little bit more about cephalopods. And, shedding, a little light on these, weird and pretty wonderful, creatures that live in the largest ecosystem. On earth well I'm just really glad you guys are interested how. Can we not be look at these creatures they're, amazing, thank you so much Mike and too if you want to continue your world ocean, day, exploration. From home, the Nautilus live and NOAA's, OSHA, Okeanos. Explorer, and the, Schmidt Marine, Institute are, all doing a program, later this evening all online, you, can visit Nautilus. Live for more information. Mike, thank you so much for being here today on Smithsonian, science house and thank, you viewers for tuning in if you missed part of this program it'll be archived later this evening on curious. Si. That easy you can find all the resources about, these websites, on that same URL, thank. You so much for joining us for this season Smithsonian, science how we hope to see you next fall, when, we kick off a brand-new line of Natural. History science. See. You next time I'm fine.