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Four New Deep-Sea Octopus Species And One “Skate Park” Discovered Off Costa Rican Coast

One octopus species was found to brood their eggs in the hydrothermal springs.

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Eleanor Higgs

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Eleanor Higgs

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Eleanor is a content creator and social media assistant with an undergraduate degree in zoology and a master’s degree in wildlife documentary production.

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Edited by Laura Simmons
Laura Simmons - Editor and Staff Writer

Laura Simmons

Editor and Staff Writer

Laura is an editor and staff writer at IFLScience. She obtained her Master's in Experimental Neuroscience from Imperial College London.

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One small pearly white octopus baby emerges from a cluster of white eggs on a brown rock. Sandy background.

I'd like to be, under the sea, in an octopus's garden, in the hydrothermal vent shade. 

Image credit: Schmidt Ocean Institute (CC BY-NC-SA)

Down in the deep ocean off the coast of Costa Rica scientists have discovered, not one, not two, not three, but four new species of deep-sea octopus in a 259-square-kilometer area (100 square miles).

These new species live in seamounts in and around hydrothermal springs that were discovered in 2023. These areas contain octopus nurseries that have been found to be active all year round. One of the new species is in the genus Muusoctopus, and will be called the Dorado octopus after the area in which it was found, a small rocky outcrop nicknamed El Dorado Hill. This species was the only one of the new four to be found brooding its eggs in warm springs on the seafloor. 

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Pink octopus with tentacles over their face
A mother octopus broods her eggs near a small outcrop of rock unofficially called El Dorado Hill.
Image credit: Schmidt Ocean Institute (CC BY-NC-SA)


“Through hard work, our team discovered new hydrothermal springs offshore Costa Rica and confirmed that they host nurseries of deep-sea octopus and unique biodiversity,” said Dr Beth Orcutt, of the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, in a statement sent to IFLScience.

These observations were made by a team from Schmidt Ocean Institute onboard R/V Falkor (too). In total, over 160 deep-sea animal specimens will be archived in the Museum of Zoology at the University of Costa Rica, adding to an existing collection of specimens numbering around 150 from an expedition last June. 

These collections mark the first time the specimens will be kept in the Central American country where they were collected, rather than being sent to the United States or housed somewhere in Europe. Keeping them in Costa Rica also allows scientists to access the specimens easily, helping to inform management decisions surrounding this deep-sea habitat. 

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“The impact of the R/V Falkor (too) expeditions on understanding the deep Pacific waters of Costa Rica will last into the future and hopefully create awareness that evolves into policies to protect the deep sea of the country,” said Dr Jorge Cortés of the University of Costa Rica. “I hope that the expedition serves as an inspiration for new generations. We need more international collaborations to advance knowledge of our deep-sea heritage.”

As well as the four octopus species, the team discovered a skate nursery, calling it the Skate Park, also off the coast of Costa Rica. Three more hydrothermal springs with different fluid temperatures and chemistries were also found in the area, 10 to 30 nautical miles from each other. 

A large grey skate swims away from the camera above the dark sea floor.
A deep-sea skate nursey nicknamed the "Skate Park" was also discovered.
Image credit: Schmidt Ocean Institute (CC BY-NC-SA)


“Drs. Cortés and Orcutt formed a team that truly exemplifies international collaboration which empowers scientists within Costa Rica and enriches local knowledge and understanding of the ocean," said Schmidt Ocean Institute’s Executive Director, Dr. Jyotika Virman


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natureNaturenatureanimals
  • tag
  • new species,

  • animals,

  • deep sea,

  • octopus,

  • costa rica,

  • hydrothermal vent,

  • skate

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