A small argonaut, a type of octopus typically found far offshore in tropical and sub-tropical waters, was captured recently a few miles beyond L.A. Harbor and now resides at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro.
The rare visitor to Southern California waters, netted Saturday night by a crewman aboard the Freedom, is believed to have been lured this far north, in its boat-like shell, by unusually warm surface waters. It measures about six inches in length.
(The video contains interesting footage of the creature leaving its shell.)
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 can measure up to 18 inches in length, are among the planet's more interesting inhabitants. Since the floating shells resemble small boats, mariners named them after the Argonauts of Greek mythology.
Not only do the females produce their paper-thin shells (they are are nicknamed "paper nautilus"), the much smaller males possess what is sometimes referred to as a detachable penis.
Actually, during mating, the male argonaut has one arm that contains the sperm. That arm detaches and attaches to the female.
In the open ocean argonauts, which feed mainly on small fishes, sometimes attach themselves to jellyfish.
So this was a remarkable catch, to be sure, and the aquarium is fortunate to house a very special new addition.
--Image showing the arogonaut is courtesy of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium