The world under water is probably much more mysterious than what it apparently seems to be. The diversity of marine animals found in the oceans is a matter of great curiosity for marine biologists and sea divers. While we know much about whales, dolphins and penguins, the mystery surrounding octopuses arouses great interest to know more about these supremely intelligent sea creatures. Even with eight suckered arms and some interesting adaptations, octopuses have been mentioned only in a few mythological texts! But they have been featured in several thrillers, sci-fci movies and novels.
Facts about the Blanket Octopus
If by any chance, you ever go scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, in Australia, you'll in all probability be amused by the colorful marine animals swimming along with you. But if you stumble across a blanket octopus, you'll have a rare sight to behold and capture in your camera! This is because they have rarely been sighted alive in large sea waters by biologists all across the world. Most of the time, only their dead bodies have been collected in plankton nets (routinely designed and manufactured aquatic equipment to collect aggregates of dead marine animals and other water wastes). Moreover, their rare presence is also due to the reason that they are known to be secretive in nature traveling far off into the oceans. One of the most fascinating, eye popping and bizarre blanket octopus facts is related to reproduction of this species. But before we switch over to that fact, let us know more about this mysterious sea creature.
Consistent research and discovery of blanket octopus species has included them in the family of Tremoctopodidae. This family includes a single genus with four species contained in it namely; Tremoctopus violaceus, Tremoctopus gelatus, Tremoctopus gracilis and Tremoctopus robsoni.
Blanket octopuses are commonly found in tropical, temperate seas, Indo - Pacific and Atlantic ocean coasts, Australia, and in the seas of New Zealand.
Most of the female blanket octopuses are muscular in their appearance. Amongst all the four species, T. gelatus has quite a different look relative to others. Blanket octopuses are named so because of the presence of transparent webs that connect the dorsal and dorsolateral arms. Just like squids, the number of sucker pairs on blanket octopuses (12 - 30 pairs, generally) impart characteristic properties to them. The large net like membranes found in the body of a female blanket octopus is used to frighten enemies or predators. Unfurling the nets under the water, makes the female body look much bigger than what it is normally. This creates a sense of fear amongst its enemies or attackers.
Ever heard that in a species, the females are exceedingly larger than their male counterparts? Never, right? But this is the reality, when it comes to female blanket octopuses. Females of this species are generally up to 2 meters (6.6 feet) while the males are just 2.4 centimeters (0.9 inches)! If such a thing happens to the human species, then males would be equal to the size of a walnut and the females would be 6 feet in height! Biologists regard it to be the most fascinating and classic examples of sexual dimorphism in the animal species. In the parasitic and marine world, sexual dimorphism does exist in many animals but the case of the blanket octopus is an extreme and rare one. A full-grown female adult can weigh 10 kilograms while the male can rarely be more than an ounce. That means, a female can be almost 40,000 times heavier than a male! Males have a short life span and they are always in an endeavor to find a potential partner to mate. In case they find a female blanket octopus, they will present their tentacles stored with sperms to the female and then die shortly. The females keep the tentacles within their body and at appropriate times, use it for reproduction.
One of the other interesting blanket octopus facts is that they have a unique defense mechanism. When jellyfish or better known as the Portuguese man-of-war, pass these octopuses, they will tear off the poisonous tentacles of the jellyfish and carry it along with them to chase away predators. They're generally immune to the poisonous sting of the jellyfish tentacles!
Female blanket octopuses and even squid (some of these species can be up to 18 meters long!) are rarely sighted animal species under water. Biologists are amused that if it is difficult to sight such big species in vast stretches of ocean, it won't be a surprise, if there are still countless number of small animal species yet to be discovered! The marine world is definitely one big mystery! As extensive research is conducted, we will gradually know more about the fabulous species.