There are more denizens of the deep than one could dream of, and this squishy crimson creature that washed up on the shores of Washington is certainly a strange specimen indeed.
Like something straight out of some Lovecraftian horror tale, this multi-tentacled beast was initially described as a big "red glob" plopped on a bare rocky shore in Washington, and its official classification has lured cephalopod aficionados out from under rocks all over the world.
When Washington resident Ron Newberry discovered the weird-looking, lifeless, 3.5-foot-long animal on Whidbey Island, its true identity was not readily available and theories spanned from the shallow-water East Pacific red octopus, a rare deep-sea vampire squid, or perhaps the elusive deep-sea dumbo octopus.
Neither of these prospective creatures fit the bill and scientists were apt to look at a variety of different marine creatures like the seven-armed octopus (Haliphron atlanticus). Typically a deep-water swimmer, this oceanic resident is hardly ever seen as far north as the state of Washington.
Newberry stumbled across the bizarre, gelatinous creature beside algae-crusted rocks right before embarking on a salmon fishing trip the morning of Aug. 29.
"And there it was, this red glob of something with what appeared to be tentacles," Newberry told Live Science.
After Newberry, who works for the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, captured a bunch of close-up photos and uploaded them to the organization's Facebook and Instagram pages. Afterwards, Mother Nature intervened and swept the dead specimen back out into Puget Sound.
His social media posts went berserk, with the site's Facebook post attracting 21,000 people in mere days. Marine biology experts from the Seattle Aquarium, University of Washington, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. all contributed their guesses as to red beast's real identity, and most concurred that it was a species of seven-armed octopus.
"According to a college professor from Walla Walla University, he didn't know of any records of such an octopus found in the Puget Sound area or Washington state," Newberry added.