One of the world’s rarest—and arguably most bizarre—creatures is the rainbow-hued blanket octopus.
Native to tropical and sub-tropical regions, this rare species of cephalopod spends enough time deep down under the waves that they don’t make a lot of contact with humans. As such, sightings of them are rare—and videos of them are even rarer.
— Mirror Tech (@MirrorTech) June 18, 2019
These octopuses are known for their defense mechanism, where they web out a massive “blanket” webbing between their legs to smother the visibility of a predator. They’re constantly on the move, floating through the waters of the Indo-Pacific Ocean and waiting for predators that they’re capable of grappling with; they can withstand the toxins of a poisonous man o’ war and rip off their tentacles to use as a weapon against other creatures to make them a surprisingly resilient and fascinating part of the ocean’s ecosystem.
For a photographer who went out diving in Romblon, Philippines, this past April, there was more than just one of the ever-elusive cephalopods waiting for him when he brought his camera down into the dark. And luckily for the rest of the world, his incredible encounter was captured on film for everyone to marvel at.
Israeli cameraman Joseph Elayani was diving off the coast of the Romblon Island when he spotted a rainbow blanket octopus, which boasts an incredible array of colors across its body and the “blanket” webbing that gives it the name.
His video of the octopus is rare enough by itself, because he managed to film the encounter in such high definition. So few of the creatures have been spotted over the years as it is, and using such phenomenal equipment gave viewers a chance to truly marvel at what the blanket octopus looks like as it floats through the ocean.
“My adrenaline was so high, I could only think where the buttons were on the camera, and my fingers trembled,” said Eyalani, per an interview reported in the Mirror UK.
“I remember when I first heard about this octopus, my great enthusiasm and encountering it in nature was a dream come true.”
What makes it truly incredible, though, is that it wasn’t just one blanket octopus that ended up in the film—it was two!
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According to National Geographic, blanket octopuses are especially unique because the females are so much larger than the males—so both of the octopuses in the incredible video are females. The males grow to be less than an inch long, making them about the size of the walnut, while the females are often up to 6 feet long.
That’s what gives the video such an air of wonder; in addition to managing to capture a pair of uncommon creatures out in their habitat, Elayani managed to capture two females in the same place. Like most species of octopus, the blanket octopus tends to be a loner; these creatures typically only come together to mate, so finding two in the same area without an apparent reason is like finding hidden treasure.