Marine biologists studying Hawaii’s coral reefs discovered two rust-orange colored critters floating on plastic debris. The little creatures had eight tentacles — and, upon closer inspection, appeared to be miniature versions of octopuses.
Scientists with Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park on the Big Island found the pea-sized octopuses back in August.
“During a surface break from coral reef monitoring our Marine Biologists noticed something small when they picked up several items of floating plastic marine debris. This beautiful little octopus was found among the debris,” the Hawaiian park posted on Facebook at the time.
The scientists scooped up the small marine animals and placed them in a plastic container full of water. On their next dive, they returned the octopuses back into the ocean “in a small protected space.” Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park marine ecologist Sallie Beavers told The Associated Press one squirted a tiny bit of ink when they released it in the ocean.
They later confirmed they found the second octopus on top of plastic debris attacking and killing a crab.
“Maybe they aren’t so cute?” the national park joked on social media, sharing a photo of the unique sight.
Images of the spotted cephalopods went viral when the U.S. Department of the Interior posted a photo of one on Twitter this week.
“Who knew an octopus could be so cute!” the government agency wrote in a tweet, which has been shared by hundreds of people.