Rare 'rainbow-hued' blanket octopus tis spotted twirling through the Great Barrier Reef 1

Rare ‘rainbow-hued’ blanket octopus tis spotted twirling through the Great Barrier Reef

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Rare ‘rainbow-hued’ blanket octopus that stretches its arms out to form a cape when threatened is spotted twirling through the Great Barrier Reef

  • A rare blanket octopus was spotted around the Great Barrier Reef near Lady Elliot Island
  • Marine biologist Jacinta Shackleton was snorkeling when she saw it 
  • The blanket octopus spends most of its life in the open ocean, which is why seeing one up close is so rare 


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A marine biologist had a ‘once in a lifetime encounter’ when she captured footage of a rare blanket octopus twirling through the waters around the Great Barrier Reef.

Jacinta Shackleton was snorkeling around the reef near Lady Elliot Island, located off the coast of Queensland, when she spotted the rainbow-hued creature.

‘The colors in her cape were incredible and it was fascinating to watch the way she moved through the water,’ Shackleton told Bundaberg Now.

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‘When I first saw it I thought it could have been a juvenile fish with long fins, but as it came closer I realized it was a blanket octopus and I was overjoyed and couldn’t contain my excitement!

‘Surely a once-in-a-lifetime encounter for me, so grateful!’

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A marine biologist had a 'once in a lifetime encounter' when she captured footage of a rare blanket octopus twirling through the waters around the Great Barrier Reef

A marine biologist had a ‘once in a lifetime encounter’ when she captured footage of a rare blanket octopus twirling through the waters around the Great Barrier Reef

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The sighting was of a female blanket octopus and although Shackleton did not share its size, females can grow up to six feet long.

Males, on the other hand, are just about the size of a walnut, which experts believe is because it dies shortly after mating.

Shackleton did share that the blanket octopus spends most of its time floating in the open ocean, which is why an up close and personal encounter is so rare.

First discovered in 1963, the marine animal gets its name from sheets of webbing that stretch between some of their arms.

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Jacinta Shackleton was snorkeling around the reef near Lady Elliot Island, located off the coast of Queensland, when she spotted the rainbow-hued creature

The sighting was of a female blanket octopus and although Shackleton did not share its size, females can grow up to six feet long

Jacinta Shackleton was snorkeling around the reef near Lady Elliot Island, located off the coast of Queensland, when she spotted the rainbow-hued creature

And it will stretch its arms out to create a blanket-like silhouette n the hopes of scaring away predators.

Shackleton describes the encounter as a once in a lifetime opportunity—only a handful of people have ever seen one in the wild. 

She also explained that it took her a few moments to convince herself that what she was seeing was the infamous blanket octopus. 

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Shackleton then began snapping pictures of the colorful octopus and took footage of the encounter, which she notes was difficult due to her excitement.

In April 2021, a giant octopus was discovered sliding across the sands of Wategos Beach in Australia.

Sydney resident Jarrah Brailey filmed the creature, with tentacles around one-foot-long casually making its way towards nearby rocks.

‘It was so crazy, I couldn’t believe it,’ Brailey told Daily Mail Australia.

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Shackleton describes the encounter as a once in a lifetime opportunity—only a handful of people have ever seen one in the wild

She also explained that it took her a few moments to convince herself that what she was seeing was the infamous blanket octopus

Shackleton describes the encounter as a once in a lifetime opportunity—only a handful of people have ever seen one in the wild. She also explained that it took her a few moments to convince herself that what she was seeing was the infamous blanket octopus

In April 2021, a giant octopus was discovered sliding across the sands of Wategos Beach in Australia. Sydney resident Jarrah Brailey filmed the creature, with tentacles around one-foot-long casually making its way towards nearby rocks (pictured)

In April 2021, a giant octopus was discovered sliding across the sands of Wategos Beach in Australia. Sydney resident Jarrah Brailey filmed the creature, with tentacles around one-foot-long casually making its way towards nearby rocks (pictured)

She said it was changing color depending on whether it was underwater, on the sand or on the rocks.

Octopuses are able to camouflage their color as a way to protect themselves from predators, but few people get to see it up close.

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The creatures normally like to stay in deep water and are rarely seen cruising the beach.

‘It was super cool!’ she said.

‘But I didn’t realise how rare it was to see one so big up close, until I was inundated with messages from friends from places like New Zealand and the UK.’

She it was just ‘another day’ in Australia.

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