Wet Life / 04 April, 2019
Out of the Black
Blanket octopus | A rainbow ghost
A female blanket octopus emerges from the dark and flashes open her shimmering cape. These striking cephalopods spend their lives in the open ocean and, though widely distributed, are rarely seen and little known. After many hours diving at night in deep water in Balayan Bay in the Philippines, I was thrilled to meet this one. It was new moon, the best time for blackwater diving, when animals are more likely to be attracted to dive lights. Spreading her arms to reveal the iridescent sheets of webbing makes her seem larger and more intimidating. She may even carry jellyfish stinging tentacles as defence. And for a quick getaway, she folds in her arms and jets away, her cape flowing behind her. The difference between the sexes is startling. With her cape, a female can reach 2 metres (6.5 feet). The tiny male has a mantle of 2 centimetres (0.8 inches) and sports no cape at all.
Highly Commended. Animal Portraits category. WPY 2021 - Wildlife Photographer of the Year.