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Googly-eyed sea creature spotted off California coast delights scientists

A team of scientists exploring the Pacific Ocean off the Southern California coast have come across a creature that looks like it could be part of a “Pokemon Go” game.

The purple, googly-eyed animal — which according to scientists aboard the exploration ship E/V Nautilus looks like a cross between an octopus and a squid — is known as a stubby squid, but is more closely related to a cuttlefish.

The creature was observed last week as the crew explored the ocean floor at a depth of 2,950 feet with a remote-controlled vehicle equipped with a high-definition camera.

In a video posted on YouTube, which has had almost 500,000 views, the researchers can be heard marveling as they came across the little guy — sitting all by himself on the sandy sea floor.

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“What is it?” one scientist said. “He has googly eyes,” another observed. “Looks like they are painted on.”

“It looks like some little kid dropped their toy,” said another as the crew laughed, clearly enjoying the discovery.

The creature lives on the sea floor, where it burrows into the sediment to camouflage itself, often leaving only its eyes sticking out so it can spot prey. It lives in the Pacific, from Japan to Southern California, and has been spotted at depths as much as 4,260 feet.

The E/V Nautilus is a research ship operated by the Ocean Exploration Trust, which was founded in 2008 by Robert Ballard, a National Geographic explorer-in-residence most famous for discovering the wreck of the Titanic in the North Atlantic.

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debbi.baker@sduniontribune.com

Baker writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune

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