The Marine Biologists Are Stumped

There is a heated discussion on The Octopus News Magazine Online ( as Dr Steve O’Shea tries to identify just what the hell this could be


Size- 30-40cm long and around 5-10cm thick around anterior end, and 2-5cm thick posterior skirt.
Grey colour on dorsal side of body. Pale ventral. Red/white bands around edges of ‘skirt’ Orange/brown patch on ventral surface behind the ‘vent’.
Skirt – This appears to be a membranous tissue on the posterior end of the body, mostly grey but with banding around the edges. On close inspection of the photographs this looks like a thin layer of ‘skin’ that ‘flaps’ like a ray. The banded area looks like 2 separate appendages that do not join, but the ends meet.

Anterior – very distinctive ‘nose’/ trunk like protrusion which appears to be able to move independently of the rest of the body. Small grooves run from the tip of the underside of the ‘nose’, towards the middle underside and around the side of the body towards the vent. There was a notable inflation of the ‘melon’ as the animal surfaced and this then deflated as it dived.
2 (visible) circular indentations on dorsal surface near the beginning of the ‘skirt’

Movement – slow swimming, possibly using the ‘vents’ on the side of the body to propel it forward. It moved with the ‘nose’ end leading. One photograph shows a ‘footprint’ left behind the animal.

Behaviour – First spotted just below the surface (~ 30cm), it then surfaced and swam towards the boat, stopped and lifted the ‘nose’ towards us as if sensing something in front of it.

There was a group of about 200+ bottlenose dolphins in the area, feeding on small fish. They did not appear interested in the creature, nor it by them.
Relatively calm sea conditions, sea state 1, slight easterly swell. Water depth, <25m.

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