As her feet pressed into the sand, she looked down and found these almost mythical eyes staring back at her.
That slimy face belongs to a species of octopus known as an argonaut, or paper nautilus. Female argonauts grow out these paper-thin, translucent shells in order to use as homes for their baby octopi.
One of the reasons that this species is so rarely seen by the human eye is that it spends most of its time far below the ocean’s surface.
Occasionally, argonauts come up for air, but not to breathe. They go up to the surface in order to trap air in their shells, turning their own body into a flotation device. These smart creatures put just enough air to keep themselves from sinking but not so much air that they float to the surface.
Considering how rarely these animals are seen, it’s pretty amazing that a young girl found her by chance. Upon discovering the argonaut washed ashore, the girl notified a park official, who returned the argonaut to deeper water.
Fun fact: Those shells aren’t just great homes and floatation devices. Female argonauts also use the shells to store items such as the male counterpart’s member, which she tears off him in order to reproduce.