#5264 – Octopus
2018 50c Bioluminescent Life
Value: 50¢ 1-ounce first-class letter rate- Forever
Issued: February 22, 2018
First Day City: Fort Pierce, FL
Type of Stamp: Commemorative
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America
Format: Pane of 20
Quantity Printed: 40,000,000 stamps
Deep below the surface of the North Atlantic Ocean, a small species of octopus lights up the dark water with its twinkling array of arms.
The glowing sucker octopus is one of just a few bioluminescent species of octopus. Each of the creature’s arms are different lengths, with the largest measuring up to 14 inches. These arms join together with a small body resembling an umbrella.
Each arm contains about 60 adhesive suckers of various sizes. However, each arm has a row of about 40 suckers with photophores (an organ that emits luminescence) instead of muscle cells. They are all different sizes and illuminate in different ways. Some of these photophores produce a continuous but faint light for up to five minutes. Others emit much brighter lights that go off and on in a cyclical pattern, making them appear to twinkle.
Scientists are not sure why the glowing sucker octopus is bioluminescent. They believe it is used for defense or to lure in food. Some say it may be a part of their mating process, but this has not been verified.
Even though the glowing sucker octopus was first discovered in 1997, scientists still have many unanswered questions. One thing we do know is that it holds the Guinness World Record for “most bioluminescent octopus.”