Pelagic octopus called argonaut makes rare voyage to California

Southern California waters are home to all sorts of fascinating creatures, but they recently received a rare visit from an intriguing type of octopus called an argonaut.

Because female argonauts produce paper-thin shells that resemble tiny boats, mariners named them after the Argonauts of Greek mythology.

They’re typically found far offshore in tropical and sub-tropical waters, but the specimen in the accompanying photograph and video was captured recently by a fisherman only a few miles outside of Los Angeles Harbor. (Video contains interesting footage of the argonaut leaving its shell.)

It’s now on display at nearby Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, which provided the accompanying image and video. The eight-armed critter might simply have followed unusually warm surface waters into the region.

States a post on the aquarium Facebook page: “These animals are usually only found in tropical and sub-tropical seas; finding one in Southern California indicates warm water currents from the south are most likely prevalent.

“Now it’s residing in the Aquatic Nursery and we are learning as much as we can about this unusual warm water visitor.”

Argonauts, which feed mainly on small fish and can measure up to 18 inches in length, are nicknamed “paper nautilus” because of their thin shells.

The much smaller males possess what is sometimes referred to as a detachable penis. Actually, however, the male argonaut has one arm that contains the sperm. That arm detaches and attaches to the female during mating.

In the open ocean argonauts, sometimes attach themselves to jellyfish, so this one may have caught a ride.

Regardless, the aquarium is fortunate to house a very special new addition.

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