Opisthotheusis Adorabilis
Opisthotheusis AdorabilisMonterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

A tiny and extremely cute octopus might be named adorabilis because of its endearing appearance.

The creature has been known since 1990 but it is yet to be described by science, so has no formal name.

It is from the genus Opisthoteuthis – the same group as the pink flapjack octopus (Opisthoteuthis californiana), on which Pearl in Finding Nemo was based. However, other than this, not much is known about them.

In a film by Science Friday, postdoctoral researcher Stephanie Bush, from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, said the species has a number of features that differentiate it from others.

"They are really gelatinous and fragile," she said. "They have relatively large eyes for the size of their body. They have a well-developed web between their arms and they will spread that web and parachute along. They kind of steer themselves with their fins on their mantle."

Bush is describing the species, meaning she will have the privilege of naming it. "As someone who is describing the species you get to pick what the specific name is," she said. "One of the thoughts I had was Opisthotheusis Adorabilis because they are really cute.

In 2014, several specimens of the octopus were collected and are being kept at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They are currently on show as part of its Tentacles special exhibition.

Researchers use red light to display the species because octopuses cannot see red light – this means they think they are in their dark deep sea environment. One of them even laid eggs, which are developing.

Bush says studying these animals is important to get a better understanding of the ocean: "In order to have a healthy functioning ocean ecosystem we need to understand the ecology and behaviour of the individual species," she said.