It's generally agreed around these parts that octopodes are disturbingly awesome. The blanket octopus however kicks our cephalopod fascination into overdrive. How come? This creature looks like a swimming tablecloth or one of the aliens from Abyss.
These cephalopods belong to the genus Tremoctopodidae, which consists of four species. The females can grow to 6.5 feet long, whereas the males can hit the size of one inch. When the male mates with the female, he offers her a special tentacle containing his sperm, inserts this torn-off tentacle into the female, and promptly dies. A round of applause for sexual dimorphism, everybody!
The female will accrue several of the tentacles inside her body cavity. Female specimens of Tremoctopus violaceus will even squeeze the sperm out of her severed tentacle collection to fertilizer her eggs.
When threatened, the female octopus unfurls its membrane, which causes the cephalopod to appear much bigger than it actually is. To make matters even crazier, some blanket octopodes — like Tremoctopodidae gracilis — have been observed carrying the severed tentacles of Portugese man-o-wars for potential offensive or defensive measures.
And here's one final video of the creature swimming in Florida. Its unfurled blanket really lends itself to pareidolia, no?
Via Deep Sea News. Top photo: StreetJudge79/Reef Central.