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Rare octopus draws attention in San Pedro

October 17, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A rare octopus that was discovered in Southern California waters is getting a lot of attention.

Curious visitors have been gathering around the edge of a saltwater tank in San Pedro, where they marvel at the an unusual creature known as an Argonaut.

"This is an octopus and it doesn't really look like a normal octopus," said Mike Schaadt, director of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. "They don't normally live in our cold water that we have here."

Shaadt says the adult female Argonaut was caught in a bait trap a few miles off the San Pedro shore on Saturday.

"They're more commonly seen every other year or so in Catalina Island, very rare to see here close to the mainland," said Schaadt.

This animal is also known as a paper nautilus, because of its distinct shell. They are typically only found in tropical or subtropical waters. But sometimes they catch rides on warm water currents and end up in our local waters.

"The longest they've ever been kept in captivity, was actually a laboratory, was about two weeks," said Schaadt.

Researchers at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium say they realize the Argonaut probably won't live long, but the information they've gathered in the last few days has been invaluable.

"We know very little about this organism and organisms like it, so every time we're actually learning a little bit more," said Schaadt.

Researchers at the aquarium say they've only run across three of these animals in the past 20 years.


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