Purple Abu Abaya octopus appears for the first time in Omani waters

Oman Monday 16/January/2023 15:37 PM
By: Times News Service
Purple Abu Abaya octopus appears for the first time in Omani waters
This magnificent creature roams the tropical and subtropical waters.

Muscat: It did not occur to the young man, Ahmed bin Abdullah Al-Siyabi, while he was fishing at night from the northern Al-Mawaleh beach in the Wilayat of Seeb, about a month ago, that he would have a date with a very rare sea creature whose sightings in the world did not exceed the fingers of two hands.

Ahmed, an employee of the security and safety services, says that fear gripped him at first when he saw a strange creature that looked like a black ghost wading slowly and quietly on the surface of the water just a few meters away in front of him. When he approached it out of curiosity, he thought it was a large strange-shaped squid that looked tired and weak.

So he dragged it to the beach and filmed it on the sand while it was still alive. Out of the intensity of his confusion and his quest to find out what the truth about the wondrous creature that fell into his hands, he showed it to his relatives, friends, and fishermen whom he knew, and who unanimously agreed that they had not seen such a creature in their lives.

In search of an answer on a larger scale, he posted the video on his brother's account on the Tik Tok platform and in many groups, in hope that he would find someone to help him identify what he thought was a strange squid, but he did not receive any convincing answer, even the scientific authorities remained silent.

Given the scarcity of sources and studies that dealt with this semi-legendary marine creature that resembles the character of Batman with his cloak extended on his back, he thought at first that it was from the abyssal creatures such as the vampire squid, but after checking again, his research was limited to very rare species of cephalopods, specifically octopuses.

The amazing truth came that what fell into the hands of brother Ahmed Al-Siyabi that night in December last year was the rare female Violet Blanket Octopus (Tremoctopus violaceus), a species that had not been scientifically documented in the seas of the Sultanate and perhaps in the Arabian Sea also before.

This magnificent creature is incredibly agile and roams the tropical and subtropical waters that include the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans as well as the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and now the Sea of Oman can be added to the list.

The length of the females is about two meters, while the length of the males does not exceed three centimeters, and the weight of the female is ten thousand times greater than that of the male.

The female weighs about ten kilograms, while the male weighs only thirty grams. Females live from three to five years, while males do not exceed two years.

The females of the Abu Abaya purple octopus feed on molluscs and small fish, while they fall prey to large fish such as blue sharks, tuna fish, and beaked fish such as cinquefoil, mech and amber.

It is reported that the female can straighten and fold the leather cloak that connects her dorsal arms as required. Under normal circumstances, the covered part of her body is not really noticeable. However, if it detects a threat or the presence of a predator nearby it will spread its cloaca and puff into the water, hoping to disorient and scare it away.

Ahmed Al-Siyabi handed over Abu Abaya’s purple octopus to the Center for Marine and Fisheries Sciences, so that the genetic fingerprint could be removed and the rare sample closely studied, after he kept it in preservation for twenty-eight days until it was officially registered in a scientific paper, we eagerly await its issuance.