The Nautilus ROV ascends, followed by the stubby squid’s curious eyes. Photo: OET/Nautilus Live The ROV moves in… Photo: OET/Nautilus Live

Stubby squid use their big eyes to spot predators and prey in the gloomy undersea world. Photo: OET/Nautilus Live

Is it a new Pokemon? Mr Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street? Or perhaps the new mascot for the Dockers?

You could be forgiven for thinking this unusual sea creature is something out of this world, but it’s actually a very rare natural sight captured by scientists exploring the ocean floor off California.

Known as a Rossia pacifica or stubby squid, this amazing cephalopod was spotted 900 metres below the surface by the research vessel EV Nautilus, which is supported by The Ocean Exploration Trust founded by Dr Robert Ballard, who located the wreck of the Titanic in 1985.

This discovery is on a much smaller scale though: stubby squid grow to a maximum length of just 11cm, spending their lives on the sea floor using those big eyes to spot predators and prey on shrimp and small fish. Stubby squid inhabit areas of the Northern Pacific from Japan to southern California and like to bury themselves in the sea floor for protection, leaving only their eyes poking out.

The research team sent a remotely-operated submersible down to the sea floor to see what they could see, and quickly spotted the bright purple squid staring up at them, capturing all the action on video.

“They look like googly eyes. It looks so fake!” one researcher can be heard saying.

“It’s like some little kid dropped their toy.”

In the end, the Nautilus’ ROV rises up and floats away, with the stubby squid’s eyes following it all the way. 

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