If you read our last blog post, then you know how truly incredible octopuses are. If you would like to read it and learn more about them, click here! In honor of World Octopus Day last week, we’re back for more fun with specific species of octopuses! There are over 300 species of octopus. They are a type of mollusk and have great adaptations, high intelligence, diversity, and wonder. These fascinating creatures are often underrepresented and misunderstood. Today, we will dive even deeper into the world of octopuses and check out a few different species and what makes them special.
Common, Cunning, and Charismatic
First up, the common octopus (Octopus vulgaris)! If you watched the new Netflix documentary, “My Octopus Teacher,” then you’ve seen and heard of the common octopus. They inhabit tropical waters around the world such as the Mediterranean Sea and East Atlantic. Generally, they are found on the ocean floor and gravitate towards rocky habitats with plenty of places to hide and camouflage.
Photo Source: National Geographic
Like other octopuses, their ability to change color, shape, movement, and behavior aids them in avoiding predators such as dolphins, sharks, and eels. Additionally, they are very intelligent like all other octopuses. They can grow about 4 feet in length and weigh up to 22 pounds (National Geographic). When it’s dinnertime, they will hunt for prey such as mollusks, crayfish, smaller fish, and crabs.
Small but Mighty, Wolfi!
The wolfi octopus hails from the western pacific ocean. They are the world’s smallest octopus. They weigh less than a gram...which is less than a paperclip! As far as length goes, on average, they are smaller than one inch!
Like other octopuses, they only live for about one year. However, they have been known to lay multiple clutches (or sets) of eggs. Just like other female octopuses, they will slowly but surely die off after laying eggs and brooding over them. When they are first born, they will eat tiny plankton. Eventually, they will graduate to smaller mollusks, krill, and crustaceans.
Photo Source: Octo Lab TV
As far as their conservation goes, they are currently listed as least concern. They are becoming popular in the pet trade, so I implore you to support the preservation of their natural habitat and discourage your community from purchasing this adorable octopus as a pet. They belong in their homes in the big blue!
Who Doesn’t Love Dumbo?
Photo Source: Oceana
Another “famous” species of octopus is the dumbo octopus (Grimpoteuthis spp). They are beautiful octopuses and mesmerizing when they swim. Watch a clip from National Geographic here of one swimming in the dark, deep ocean. There are about 17 different kinds of dumbo octopus species that are categorized into the group of umbrella octopus. They are grouped due to their ability to hover while appearing like an umbrella. Their “dumbo-like ears” are really their arms that have an extra flap of skin that connects to form an umbrella-like appearance.
They are found in the deep sea between 9,000 and 13,000 feet. Down below, they have a lot less light dependency and even have a modified mouth that allows them to swallow their prey whole instead of ripping and shredding prey as other octopuses do. This also allows them to quickly and efficiently consume prey when they find it since prey is scarce in the deep sea. Their prey consists of small amphipods, bristle worms, and copepods. Dumbo octopuses are solitary and rare. Females can store sperm for periods of time to save for reproduction during favorable environmental conditions.
The dumbo octopus lacks an ink sac, which most other octopuses have for defense. Generally, they will not encounter predators in the deep sea as often as shallow-occurring octopuses.
I’m Coconuts About You
Last but certainly not least, it’s the coconut octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus). These fabulous octopuses get their name for their inclination to use coconut shells to hide, burrow, hunt, and defend themselves! They use their strength to carry these shells for large distances and have many uses for them. This particular octopus is a great example of the octopus’s ability to use tools, develop skills, and adapt to a variety of habitats.
Photo Source: Oceana
The downside of relying on coconuts is the similar-looking plastic and trash found in our oceans. Oceana says, “Unfortunately, sometimes coconut octopuses mistake plastic trash in our oceans as burrows. Man-made discarded objects can also be found in the sand and mud where they forage for protective shells.” Read more about trash and plastic in the ocean from our previous blog post here.
Another unique ability that the coconut octopus possesses is its bipedal motion! This means that they can walk on two limbs (arms) similar to humans or other animals. Bipedal locomotion is not common for octopuses and marine biologists have found that there are only two species of octopus that are known to move in this way!
Besides coconuts, the coconut octopus can also use clams as their den or find suitable, round objects to hide in. Check out this Oceana video of the coconut octopus in action!
Thanks for reading our blog post about octopuses! I hope you can see how one blog post about these creatures was simply not enough. Have a jaw-some week!
Written By: Bailey Higa