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  • José H. Leal

The Pigmy Octopus

Octopuses are shell-less mollusks of the class Cephalopoda. One of the local species is the Pigmy Octopus, Octopus joubini Robson, 1929, a species rarely surpassing 5 inches in size. Given their relatively small size, Pigmy Octopuses are capable of temporarily seeking shelter inside empty shells of large gastropods (e.g., Lightning Whelks, Tulips) or bivalves (e.g., Giant Cockles, Quahogs, Pen Shells). Members of this small species, in particular females guarding their eggs, are known to inflict severe and painful bites, so beach-walkers and visitors should exercise caution and avoid handling them. Museum collaborator Amy Tripp recently photographed the Pigmy Octopus and its eggs. Her photos were taken in relatively undisturbed Kice Island in Collier County, Florida.

The Pigmy Octopus, Octopus joubini, and its eggs, both photographed in Kice Island by Amy Tripp.

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