- Image of female Argonaut. Photo from Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, taken by Gary Florin.
Photo by: Brittany Murray / Staff Photographer Daily Breeze
A rarely seen species of octopus was found this week by fisherman off the coast of San Pedro, California. The baseball-sized female Argonaut (aka: paper nautilus), pictured in the image above, normally lives in tropical and subtropical waters. She is now making a new home in the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro. Not much is known about this mysterious species since they are difficult to maintain in captivity.
They are unusual among octopuses because the females have an outer shell that is used to store eggs as well as trap air bubbles allowing them to float on the surface of the ocean. Males do not have shells and are only about an inch long. To fertilize eggs, the males place a sperm sac on a tentacle and insert it into the female’s shell. In the process, the tip of the male’s tentacle is chopped off. According to aquarist Jeff Landesman, ”You can tell how many times she’s been fertilized by how many tentacles tips are trapped in her shell.”