November 22, 2009--
A newfound creature nicknamed "Dumbo" (pictured) may look like it's all ears--but the protrusions are actually fins that help propel the animal through the darkness 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) under the sea.
Netted during a recent Census of Marine Life (CoML)
expedition to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, this Dumbo is among the thousands of deep-sea creatures the census has documented so far that live without ever knowing sunlight. Reaching six feet (two meters) in length and weighing 13 pounds (6 kilograms), the jumbo Dumbo is the largest of the octopus
-like animals ever found.
(Related: "PHOTOS: New Deep-Sea Species Revealed by Marine Census."
"The deep sea is Earth's largest continuous ecosystem and largest habitat for life," said CoML expedition member Chris
German, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in a statement. "It is also the least studied."
The census is a ten-year effort among marine biologists around the world to catalog and understand ocean life. More than 210 expeditions will examine and document the 95 percent of Earth's oceans that remain relatively unexplored. A final report will be unveiled in October 2010.
Photograph courtesy Census of Marine Life