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One day last summer, while leading my AdventureMike's summer camp by Peanut Island, we came upon an incredible octopus. The likes of which I had never seen, heard of, or ever saw any photos of in any magazine, ever! It was a tremendously large octopus as octopus go, and swimming freely in the open water column during the day, which is not "normal" octopus behavior. We watched in awe as the octopus slowly glided and swam towards us. I slowly extended my hand towards it, and as it got closer, it gently reached out with a single tentacle, touched my wrist and "stung" the heck out of me. Now I know there is no such thing as a "stinging octopus" and I found this to be quite fascinating and continued to take video and photos non stop. A moment later, it opened up its leading arms and a billowing cape unfolded behind it, 6 to 8 feet in length. If it didn't have our absolute total attention before then, it certainly did now! Once back in the boat I texted a copy of the images I had taken to my "all knowing when it comes to the marine environment friend", Paul Humann, The Marine Fish, Coral and Invertebrate ID Expert. Even he at the time could not identify it. With research, my wife, Sheri, was able to identify it as an extremely rare and very seldom seen "Blanket Octopus". A creature so rare that almost nothing is known of this species and considered by many to be the smartest, naturally occurring, creature in the ocean, even superior to bottle nose dolphin. What scientist do know of this octopus is that it is a "free swimming" open ocean Cephalopod that has learned to protect itself from being eaten by biting and clipping off tentacles of the portuguese man-of-war and attaching them to its body, knowing that anything that touches or tries to eat it will get stung. Thus the sting on my wrist. It also uses longer tentacles of the portuguese man-of-war to "fish with" and capture prey to eat. What an incredibly brilliant thought process! Another fascinating fact is that male blanket octopus grows only to be about 1 inch, while females can grow over 10 feet in length. That's about 170,000 times the size and weight of the males. This species shows the greatest degree of sexual dimorphism of any creature known, and if that isn't reason enough to decorate your wall with the most rare and fascinating creature I have ever seen in my life, then just know, that octopus are "cool" and everybody loves them! Besides, I love the photo, and what a conversation piece you will have once you memorize my story! Haha....
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