All About Octopuses

These Amazing Species Display a Wide Variety of Skills

by Pallav Regmi, age 12

Eight arms, large eyes, and a massive head make the common octopus’s appearance unique.  But behind this strange appearance lies an amazing variety of skills.

For example, an octopus can disappear in plain sight.  Like a chameleon, an octopus can almost instantly match the colors, patterns, and even textures of its surroundings.  Pigment cells and specialized muscles in its skin help with this disappearing act, making predators such as sharks, eels, and dolphins swim right past the octopus without noticing it.  Octopuses use this ability to both hide from predators and to hunt prey.

If discovered, an octopus expels a cloud of black ink.  The ink is a diversionary tactic, which gives the octopus ample time to swim away.  The ink contains a substance that blunts the predator’s smell, making the octopus hard to track.

The octopus’s mantle also has the ability to ward off predators. The mantle sprays water, propelling the octopus away quickly for a speedy escape.  Their soft bodies allow them to squeeze through impossibly small cracks that their predators can’t get through. They can also lose an arm and grow another one without any permanent damage.

The octopus commonly preys on crabs, crayfish, and mollusks.  By delivering a venomous bite an octopus can paralyze their prey, or use it to escape from predators.

Octopuses are usually found in tropical and temperate oceanic waters.  They have a lifespan of about two years and can grow up to 36 inches (91.4 cm) long and weigh about 22 lbs (10 kg).

Octopuses collect crustacean shells and other objects to make fortresses, or “gardens,” around their territories.  This is one piece of evidence suggesting that the common octopus is the most intelligent invertebrate.