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The Glass Octopus (Vitreledonella richardi)

"Glass" animals, or animals that have a transparent skin layer, are nothing new in the animal kingdom. Despite being rare, animals such as the Glasswing Butterfly, the Reticulated Glass Frog, and even Phronima are notably transparent. The glass octopus is also transparent but is speckled in green spots.

Physical Description and Behavior

The glass octopus is a gelatinous and almost colorless transparent octopod. Their mantle is about 11 cm (4.5 inches) long, with a total length of about 45 cm (18 inches), so they are fairly small. The suckers on their arms are in a single series, which are used for feeding and mating.

Fun fact: Due to these octopods being transparent, you can see all of their inner organs. This includes their oddly rectangular eyes, which are as wide as the lens diameter. You can also clearly see their digestive tract, which is seen as an odd orange blob inside of their head.

The spots seen on their body seem to range from vivid light green to a rusty red color. This seems to be the result of chromatophores which help the animal blend in with its surroundings and hide from predators. However, due to glass octopi residing in depths from 300m up to 1000m, they receive almost no sunlight. As a result, these chromatophores would not be significantly visible at these depths, indicating that this might simply be a vestigial behavior that has not fully been phased out.

Habitat and Location

Despite there not being much data for this species, it appears to be really widespread. It has been reported near the shores of 150 different countries and islands, preferring a tropical marine oceanic environment.

It is considered to be of Least Concern, according to the IUCN Redlist. This is partly due to them being deep-sea dwellers, making them less likely to be affected by human actions.

Learn more about this fascinating glass octopod by checking out the video below!

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