A rare 'Dumbo' octopus was spotted by scientists during a deep-sea research dive by their unmanned robotic submersible off the coast of California.

Scientists from the non-profit Ocean Exploration Trust were exploring a region near an underwater volcano when the octopod measuring approximately 60cm drifted past the camera of their research vessel E/V Nautilus.

The sea creature got its nickname because the flapping fins on the side of its head resemble the famous Disney character.

Also called an umbrella octopus, it lives on the ocean floor at depths of 2.7-4km, according to the Tree of Life Project, an online website researching biodiversity.