TGIF: Strange Blanket Octopus

This video of a swimming Tremoctopus or “blanket octopus” was shot in the Gulf of Mexico in 180 feet of water at Eugene Island South Addition Block 330 in October, 2008. The location is 100 miles from the Flower Garden Banks, close to Sweet Bank, on the outer continental shelf west of Mississippi Canyon. The video appears to be from an industrial ROV performing inspections on an oil rig.

The footage is real, but the species is unknown. The genus is characterized by extreme sexual dimorphism. Males are ~100 times smaller than females. A similar animal washed up on the beach near Miami, FL last Friday, apparently, and another in 1964, according to NOAA Fisheries Biologist Heather Balchowsky. Special thanks to James Wiseman for the information and Emma Hickerson, FGBNMS for the tip and the link.

Peter Etnoyer (406 Posts)

PhD candidate at Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi and doctoral fellow Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies.





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23 comments on “TGIF: Strange Blanket Octopus
  1. Amazing critter. The sea still holds so many surprises. My vote for a name is hobotnica slobodna, which is Croat for wild octopus.

  2. Is this lovely creature leaving behind part of its body at 1:40? What’s going on there?

  3. @6 According to the link (http://www.tolweb.org/tremoctopus)

    The autotomized arms and membranes presumably wiggle to distract or cling to a predator while the octopod swims away. Evidence for this and additional photographs of free-swimming T. violaceus can be seen here. Apparently the web is only extended when the octopod is threatened

  4. You Tube link to a different Tremoctopus show us this defense mech (linked from the site above)

  5. Very, very cool. At first glance it strikes me that this is very similar to looking at Brad Seibel’s brooding squid (Gonatus onyx) video. Are the males similarly equipped even though they are so much smaller?

  6. Alright. That’s it.

    You guys have got to stop showing me so many things that were previously non-existent in my world. My world is big enough already. I’m not sure I can handle any more.

    What was up with the breaking of tissue there toward the end. Did it spontaneously release a piece of itself like a lizards tail in the hopes the camera would focus on the bit of cephalosnack?

    Pretty amazing!

  7. Various people have been asking… how big is it? Photographer Cassandra Cox tells me the female she photographer for ToL (linked) was ~1.5 – 2 m long.

  8. They don’t look anything like Michael Jackson’s son. They need a better name – blanket octopus is too practical and boring for something so beautiful. If sea slugs can be spanish dancers, octopi can be peacocks, or salome’.

  9. that’s not actually a blanket octopus. it is in fact the amiable alien creature from the great movie–The Abyss. check it out. you’ll see. ha

    (that is gorgeous footage btw. nice music too. i’d like to know the official name for this alien creature)

  10. Terry – Tremoctopodidae males are listed as being ~15mm so yeah this would be the 1-2m long female. I actually wish it was the male with the peacock eye spots in the blankets (no you’re not tripping Peter, or more precisely your seeing eyespots is not a factor of tripping). That would mean the females would be near to 100m!!! Wahooo! That would make my day!

  11. Wow, that truly is a marvelous, gracious creature. I wonder what benefits its sexual dimorphism brings.

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