On the Air: March 1, 2015
The dumbo octopus uses it's big "ears" to move around. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The cutest little critter in the deep ocean just might be the dumbo octopus. It has large, rounded fins on its body that resemble the ears of Dumbo, Walt Disney’s animated elephant. And like the adorable little elephant, the dumbo octopus uses those big “ears” to get around.

Biologists have identified about 20 species of dumbos, which are also known by the scientific name Grimpoteuthis. They’re found all around the world. They’re not seen very often, though, because they live at depths of about two to two-and-a-half miles — deeper than any other octopus.

In Print: March 1, 2015
This sea star is suffering from wasting disease, which causes sea stars to disintegrate in a matter of days. Credit: Kevin Lafferty, USGS.

When a sea star (a.k.a. starfish) develops wasting syndrome, the disease hits hard and fast. Lesions appear on the star’s tough outer skin. Then the tissue around those white sores begins to decay. The sea stars “deflate” and lose control of their five limbs, which curl and twist and eventually begin disintegrating. The starfish gradually “melts” into nothing.