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In an Octopus's Garden: Eight Legged Monsters of the Sea
Octopuses are amazing creatures when you really think about it. They often seem exotic and mysterious because we do not come across them on a regular basis. Many live deep in the ocean and tend to be timid, swimming away as quickly as possible when man comes around. But when you take a little time to study them and learn about their way of life, they are intriguing to say the least.
Octopuses are members of the cephalopod family of marine animals which includes squids and cuttlefish along with octopuses. There are over 800 known species of cephalopods and new species are still being discovered. It is believed that over 10,000 species of cephalopods have become extinct throughout the history of the earth, but their soft bodies without skeletons make fossilization of remains rare.
Let's take a look at a few of the interesting species of octopus. It will be a strange journey, but one I am confident you will enjoy.
Blue Ringed Octopus (Hapalochlaena maculosa)
The Blue Ringed Octopus is probably not what you first think of when octopuses come to mind. This little fellow only grows to a length of slightly less than five inches and tends to hide in crevices during the day. At night they come out to hunt crabs and other small sea life. Found along the southern coast of Australia, the Blue Ringed Octopus has a powerful venom that is capable of killing a human. In fact, it is the most powerful venom of any species of octopus.
Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus)
The Mimic Octopus is one of the most fascinating octopuses and is a relatively recent newcomer to the list of known cephalopods, having been discovered in 1998. It can impersonate at least fifteen different species including sea snakes, giant crabs, stingrays, lion fish and venomous sole. It has been observed to mimic certain species based on predators in the area, choosing to appear as a species that either is not considered prey by the predator or even a species that might prey on the predator. Check out this amazing creature in the video below!
Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini)
The Giant Pacific Octopus is the largest octopus reaching lengths of over twenty feet. The female lays over 100,000 eggs that are about the size of a grain of rice when they hatch. Only a few of the hatchlings usually survive despite the intensive care the mother gives to her young. Their diet includes shrimp, fish, crabs and even small sharks.
Coconut Octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus)
Coconut Octopuses are unusual in that they will seek shelter inside coconut shells and seashells. These medium sized octopuses are found in tropical regions of the western Pacific Ocean. They are often found in bays and lagoons and hunt food using stealth by burying themselves in the sandy bottom with only their eyes above ground. They are also one of only two octopuses that sometime exhibit bipedal walking. When walking this way, the Coconut Octopus resembles a floating coconut when seen from above.
Tuberculate Pelagic Octopus (Ocythoe tuberculata)
If size matters, no one ever told the Tuberculate Pelagic Octopus. Males are lucky to grow to four inches while females typically reach more than three feet long. The guys must have really great personalities! But seriously, this beautiful creature is the only species of cephalopod that possesses a gas bladder. The Tuberculate Pelagic Octopus is also the only member of the family of animals known as Ocythoidae.
Seven-arm Octopus (Haliphron atlanticus)
The Seven-arm Octopus really has eight arms like all other octopuses, but the males of the species keep one arm curled up in a sac beneath its right eye, giving the appearance of only seven arms. The male Seven-arm Octopus uses this special arm only when it is mating and fertilizing eggs. Though the Giant Pacific Octopus is generally considered the largest species of octopus, the largest octopus ever recorded was a Seven-arm Octopus.
Octopus Facts and Trivia
- Octopuses are invertebrates with no bones in their bodies at all. They do have one hard surface, however... their parrot-like beaks!
- While small octopuses can be kept as pets, they are considered one of the most likely to escape due their intelligence and problem solving capabilities.
- Larger octopuses live longer than smaller ones, but at most they live only a few years.
- Octopuses are considered one of the animal kingdom's smartest creatures.
- Octopuses have three hearts -- two that pump blood through the gills and one that pumps blood through the rest of its body.
- Changing colors to blend into their surroundings is one of the most effective defense mechanisms an octopus has.
- Octopuses have blue blood.
- If an octopus loses an arm, it will regrow eventually.
- Octopuses hunt by hiding and snagging prey in its arms. It then stuns the prey by secreting venom. Octopus venom is toxic to humans in varying degrees depending on the species.
- Though deaf, octopuses have excellent sight and can taste via sensory receptors on their suckers.
Though they are similar in most ways, octopuses and squid do have some distinct differences. In addition to those differences noted below, all squids also have two fins on their heads while octopuses, with the exception of a few deep sea species, do not.
Also 8, but in pairs
Hooks or Suckers