How to spot the Florida Science Museum’s big fish
Posted On August 3, 2021
The Florida Science Center is not just a museum.
It’s also an aquatic science museum, and its big fish is not a whale.
A team of marine biologists has discovered that the giant mussel is actually an octopus.
“The discovery is extremely exciting,” says the team leader, Dr. Jennifer M. DeStefano, a University of Florida professor of biology and of biology-related fields.
“It shows that the species is not unique to the state of Florida, but has a wide range of distribution and is a species that is found in all of Florida.”
The team’s discovery came during a dive on the east coast of the Florida Keys, just off the coast of Tampa, which is home to a number of ocean species, including the Atlantic mussel.
The researchers spotted an octopi, a type of fish that is about 3.6 feet long and weighs about 80 pounds.
“There are no known other octopuses in the Gulf of Mexico,” DeSteffano explains.
“We didn’t know if they were just isolated or whether they had been introduced to the area by humans.”
DeStefcano and her team first discovered the octopus by chance.
“When I came to the lab to collect the samples, we were surprised by the octopid,” she says.
“They were completely white and shiny.”
The researchers were also surprised to find the octopsids were not only white, but also bright green, and covered in white spots.
This means that they had evolved an adaptation to withstand water temperature fluctuations.
“That’s really exciting because it means they’ve adapted to the temperature changes,” DeStefano says.
The scientists also found that the octopes were in the right place at the right time.
“This is the first time we’ve found this species at such a shallow depth, so we’re able to capture the entire animal and use the technology to identify it,” DeSufano says, noting that the researchers have not yet identified its species.
In the future, the researchers plan to look at how this octopus adapted to its environment, and how it interacted with other mussels.
“In the future we plan to continue to explore how this species has adapted,” DeSpaano says in a press release.
“If you have an octo, you can’t just take it and let it go, because it’s going to die.”
[National Geographic, Image via Wikimedia Commons]