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Public gets first view of a live vampire squid and other deep-sea cephalopods
Date:6/9/2014

nt them to the public. Inevitably, the animals are exposed to ambient light (even though the exhibit is in a dimmed room) and occasional camera flashes (even though there are signs prohibiting this), as well as noise and vibrations from people passing by.

In some cases, this means that deep-sea cephalopods can only be exhibited for a few days at a time, before being returned to a nice dark, quiet holding tank in a back room. As Grasse put it, "We're always balancing the public's desire to see these animals with what we think is best for the animals themselves."

In addition to giving aquarium visitors a new appreciation for deep-sea animals, this collaboration has allowed MBARI researchers to make new discoveries about the animals. For example, after examining over a dozen flapjack octopuses collected in Monterey Bay, Bush believes that they may represent a species that has yet to be described by science. She has also learned a lot from working with the animals at the aquarium.

"When you have an animal in a tank, you can see little details in the shapes and behavior that you might not notice in video," Bush said. "For example, of the 14 flapjack octopuses we've collected, every single one was a mature female. We have no idea why this isor where the males are."

Bush is especially excited because one of the female octopuses laid eggs in its tank. "Before this, no one even knew what the eggs of this octopus looked like," she said. "Now we know that they lay these little tiny eggs on rocks, and then cover them with sand." Bush hopes that the eggs will hatch, but neither she nor anyone else knows how long this might take.

Despite all the challenges, both Bush and Grasse are excited to share these animals with the public. As Grasse put it, "I think it's great that we're inspiring so many people to care about the deep sea. It's an area that we rarely see, but which is the largest habitat on Earth."

Bush concurs. "It's bee
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Contact: Kim Fulton-Bennett
kfb@mbari.org
831-775-1835
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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