Marine scientists have released a stunning video of a strange critter, the piglet squid, floating along with its tentacles waving above its head in the central Pacific Ocean near Palmyra Atoll.
They spotted the squid about 4,544 feet (1,385 meters) below the ocean surface, while aboard the exploration vehicle (E/V) Nautilus. That research ship, along with remotely operated vehicles and the expeditions themselves are funded by the nonprofit Ocean Exploration Trust.
"What are you?" one of the voices in the video can be heard asking, as the small creature came into view. "Is that a squid? I think it's a squid. It's like a bloated squid with tiny tentacles and a little hat that's waving around. And it looks like it's got a massive, inflated mantle cavity. I've never seen anything quite like this before."
That's an accurate description of the piglet squid, which is also known for its siphon that looks a bit like the nose of a young pig. Piglet squids, like all cephalopods, have radically different bodies from animals of all kinds that we're used to seeing on land. Instead of having their limbs and head all connected to a central, organ-holding body —- as Sy Montgomery explained in her book, "The Soul of an Octopus" — their body (or "mantle") and limbs stick out of a central head. (And of course, they don't have any bones or an exoskeleton.) [Photos: Deep-Sea Expedition Discovers Metropolis of Octopuses]
The piglet squid's unusual mantle-to-legs ratio is, in part, a consequence of how it moves through the water. According to Nautilus scientists, that mantle is filled with ammonia, which the squid uses to control its buoyancy. Ammonia, as Live Science has previously reported, is a common enough chemical on Earth but dangerous to humans.
This Nautilus expedition is an effort to explore the deep ocean waters of the Marine National Monument, near Kingman Reef, Palmyra Atoll and Jarvis Island, which are among the most remote U.S.-controlled territories. Nautilus routinely turns up high-quality footage of unusual creatures.
Originally published on Live Science.