8 Fascinating Facts about the Blanket Octopus

The blanket octopus (scientific name: Tremoctopus) is amongst the rarest to be sighted on the Great Barrier Reef... Here are some of the things that make them octomazing!

  • With her tentacles enclosed in a long fleshy 'cape', the rarely seen female blanket octopus is a super-sized hero of the sea, growing to around 2 metres in length. The graceful ‘cape’ of the blanket octopus helps her appear much bigger & intimidating to potential predators.
  • In contrast, the male blanket octopus measures a tiny 2.4cm - smaller than a walnut! And the females weigh as much as 40,000 times what the males weigh. That's the largest gender size discrepancy in the animal kingdom!
  • The webbed cape and the tips of the female octopus's arms can be detached when she's in distress in her journey through the open ocean. ⁣The freshly detached arms and membranes wiggle to distract or cling to a predator while she makes a getaway.
  • Don't mess with a female blanket octopus who has another unique defence mechanism up her 8 sleeves. When a jellyfish passes by, she will tear off the poisonous tentacles of the jellyfish and carry it with her to chase away predators! (Luckily she's generally immune to the poisonous sting of the jellyfish tentacles.)
  • Blanket octopuses spend their whole life floating in the open ocean, and when threatened swoop down into deeper waters with their capes flowing behind them.
  • Fast getaway. Not even a giant cape can slow this super creature down. She can roll the blanket back into her arms to make a faster getaway.
  •  Just keep swimming! This octopus has a hydrostatic organ that allows it to maintain its depth without floating upward or sinking, so it never gets tired of swimming.
  • Deadly match! The tiny male expends all of its resources in an attempt to mate, breaking off its specially modified third right arm through the process and dying shortly after mating. The female continues on, carrying over 100,000 tiny eggs until hatching.

Rare sighting

In 2017, helicopter operators spotted a rare female blanket octopus in the far northern Great Barrier Reef.

Photo: @bungiehelicopters/Great Barrier Reef Legacy

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A tiny male blanket octopus

No more than 2.4cm long and weighing as much as 40,000 times less than the female

The 'caped' female blanket octopus

Blanket octopuses spend their whole life floating in the open ocean