Rare ‘rainbow-like’ octopus spotted in the wild #shorts
Guardian, 13 Jan 2022
This is the moment marine biologist, Jacinta Shackleton, spotted a dazzling blanket octopus in the wild off the coast of Lady Elliot Island in the Great Barrier Reef.
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The technicolour mollusc has only been seen a handful of times in the wild, making it one of the rarest sights in the marine world.
“When I first saw it, I thought it could have been a juvenile fish with long fins, but as it came closer, I realised it was a female blanket octopus and I had this overwhelming sense of joy and excitement,” Shackleton said.
“I kept yelling through my snorkel, ‘it’s a blanket octopus!’ I was so excited I was finding it difficult to hold my breath to dive down and video it.”
Blanket octopuses are extremely rare. The first sighting of a live male was made 21 years ago just north of the Great Barrier Reef.
While females grow up to 2 metres in length, the males have only been seen to grow to about 2.4cm long.
Males also don’t develop the blanket octopus’s iridescent “blanket” that makes the species so alluring. For the females that do develop it, the display can be shed to elude predators.
The extreme difference between the sexes is thought to have developed because of the blanket octopus’s unique habit of carrying blue-bottle stingers for self-defence.
“Seeing one in real life is indescribable, I was so captivated by its movements, it was as if it was dancing through the water with a flowing cape. The vibrant colours are just so incredible, you can’t take your eyes off it."
“I’ve truly never seen anything like it before and don’t think I ever will again in my life.”