Octopus Species

Octopus Species Overview

Scientists have recognized more than 300 Octopus species. They live in the oceans around the world. They are only found in salt water and they can live in regions that are either warm or cold. They range in size from extremely small to quite large. There is plenty of misunderstanding out there about these animals.

The structure of their bodies with very large heads and eight legs going in all directions can be unnerving to some. You have to agree that the design of their anatomy is unlike any other creature in the world. They are extremely flexible too which is really neat because they can make the shape of their body to fit anything, even inside of a bottle lying on the ocean floor.

Check this post with Octopus Species Index and in-depth articles about many of the different species.
TYPES OF OCTOPUSES – Octopus Species Index
Description of Evolution, Behavior, Habitat, Distribution, Reproduction, Predators, Diet, and Feeding Habits

In many cultures, they are deemed as evil creatures that lurk at the bottom of the water. They are said to be waiting for ships to destroy and men to drag under the water to kill. However, they are virtually harmless to humans and have no desire to be in confrontations. In fact, they prefer to run and to hide when they feel that they are in any type of danger.

All Octopus species consume crustaceans, mollusks, and fish. The majority of their food sources have shells on them. They will use their beaks to break the shells and consume the insides of them. When they can’t do that because of a very hard shell they will release a toxin from glands in their body. This toxin will dissolve the shell quickly and they can get to the source of the food.

All species of Octopus hunt at night and they have amazing vision. During the day they spend their time relaxing and hiding from predators. They have the ability to change their pigment so they can blend into surroundings. That’s right, they can hide in plain sight at times because they look just like what they are against.

Types of octopuses

Coconut octopus – Amphioctopus marginatus

It can be hard to study these animals in depth due to their location. They don’t do well in captivity though so that creates an additional burden. They are well known to be very intelligent animals though. They are also consumed by people all over the world as a great type of food. Sometimes they are the main course and other times they are a side dish such as Octopus rice.

All of the species of Octopus have a very short life span so they have to mature rapidly. Some have a cycle of life, reproduction, and death in less than a year. On average they won’t live more than five years. Experts believe their bodies are predispositioned to shut down after they mate. That urge to mate is one that is instinct driven and they can’t avoid.

The number of eggs that can be deposited can be up to 200,000. It really depends on the size of the Octopus and the species. The reason why they have so many eggs is that very few of them will be able to survive to maturity themselves. Octopus are very interesting animals and they give us plenty to think about.

There are quite a few differences among the species of Octopus out there. If there is a particular one you are interested in you can find photos of them and information about their lives. It can be fun as well as educational to explore many of the different species in great detail. You will find that information is lacking though for many of them. There simply isn’t enough research that has been done to give full details. Hopefully in time that will be information we have access to.

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Octopus Swimming Headfirst

Octopus Swimming Headfirst

Octopus Swimming Headfirst

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Seven-Arm Octopus

Seven-Arm Octopus – Haliphron atlanticus

Description

What makes the Seven-Arm Octopus stand out from the other 300 species is that it has one less arm than they all do. Well, that is how it appears anyway. They actually do have eight arms but one of them is extremely hard to notice. It is formed into a type of sac that is below the eyes. What is also known is that this look of seven arms is only for the males.

It is a very large species as well so it definitely gets quite a bit of recognition from both researchers and common people with an interest in these creatures. They can grow to a size of about 13 feet and weigh about 150 pounds. There is no size differentiation between the males and the females.

Distribution

This particular species of Octopus wasn’t identified until 2002. It was accidentally captured around the area of New Zealand. Researchers quickly took to the area to see what they could find out about them.

Behavior

This particular species of Octopus continues to follow suit with so many other species. It is highly intelligent with an ability to easily adapt to the environment. They are able to hide in cracks and crevices due to the flexibility of their bodies. They are also able to change colors to blend into their surroundings. They can do this by controlling their pigment.

Diet /Feeding

They consume a variety of different foods including fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. They tend to be opportunistic feeders instead of very picky as many other species of Octopus are. They have a very strong beak so they can almost always break through the shell of any food they capture.

When they aren’t able to they will drill holes in it and suck out the food source. As they attempt to capture their prey they can immediately immobilize them by biting them. This releases a very powerful venom into the body of their prey. These Octopus do consume large amounts of food. They hunt at night and are able to sneak up on their prey due to blending in. They have remarkable eyesight so they have no trouble at all seeing in the waters.

Reproduction

When it is time for mating, the males will come into contact with females. It isn’t uncommon for the males to mate with several different females during a given season. The males will soon die after the mating season is over. This is due to a mechanism in their bodies that will shut it down after they are done creating sperm and depositing it into the body cavities of the females.

The females will carry the sperm with them for abut four weeks before the eggs are ready to be fertilized by it. They can lay several thousand eggs at one time. They will find a place in the coral reef or in crevices to be able to deposit those eggs. The females stay very close to protect them from predators. They also keep them clean by blowing water on them and creating bubbles.

By the time that the eggs are ready to hatch the female is exhausted. She hasn’t eaten for a very long time and she is close to death. She won’t live long enough to see all of her eggs hatch. The young are able to swim and to find food on their own. They are vulnerable though and that is why the mortality rate is extremely high.

Human interaction

Sometimes this particular species of Octopus ends up tangled in the commercial fishing nets out there. It is believed they are following the sources of food in the water then this occurs. Many commercial fishermen are upset by the presence of this particular creature as it can result in lower yields of capture for them.

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Large Raw Octopuses

Large Raw Octopuses

Large Raw Octopuses

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North Pacific Giant Octopus

North Pacific Giant Octopus – Enteroctopus dofleini

Description

The winner of being the largest of all Octopus species in the world is the North Pacific Giant. This one can be close to 150 pound when it is fully mature and be as long as 15 feet. When you consider that some species are only a few inches in length and weight a couple of ounces there is a huge difference. The overall size of these Octopus really depends on the location where they live and what they feed on there.

You may read stories out there about some being much bigger than that. While those stories do continue to circulate they haven’t been verified. However, many experts don’t doubt at all that they can grow to be quite a bit larger than what we have recorded. Since they can blend into their surroundings so easily it can be very easy to miss one when it is right in front of you.

The ability to change colors due to pigmentation is very easy for this particular species. Since they can’t move as quickly or fit into small crevices they use the changing of color to blend in and to avoid being detected. They are normally a shade of red or brown and they can be light or dark. Yet due to their many habitats they can be just about any color.

Anatomy

The anatomy of a North Pacific Giant Octopus is very interesting. They tend to lie flat often on the bottom of the ocean so they seem to be like a tan starfish. It is this blending in though that makes them able to avoid detection from various types of predators. They have very long arms that are also thick. Along the length of them are many suction cups.

They have a head that is quite large compared to other species of Octopus. They have a mantle part of the body that is spherical in design. This is part of what helps them to be able to move around effortlessly.

Evolution

No one really know for sure what has occurred throughout time for the North Pacific Giant Octopus to take on the role that it has. There is only speculation about how they have changed from millions of years ago until the present. It is strongly believed though that they have been able to continually adapt to their changing environment. The development of so many arms may be directly linked to the evolution process for them.

Behavior

We don’t have very much information at all about the North Pacific Giant Octopus when it comes to their behavior. What we do know about them is that they have the ability to learn new things all the time. They can adapt to a changing environment though their learning skills. They are able to solve problems and they have excellent memories.

They do seem to spook easily and since they can’t move as fast as other species of Octopus they will release ink to get away. They seem to do this more often than other species of Octopus and they also produce a larger volume of the dark ink because they have bigger glands for the production of it.

Habitat/Distribution

The North Pacific Ocean is home to this species of Octopus. They tend to live about 200 feet below the surface of the water. Yet they have been found to live deeper and that is believed to be due to the changes in their environment. When they don’t have enough food to eat or they can’t find shelter then they will move deeper in order to have those basic needs met.

Octopus propelling over hard coral reef

North Pacific Giant Octopus – Enteroctopus dofleini

Diet/Feeding Habits

They spend most of their night time hours looking for food. The drawback of being a larger species is that you have to eat more to have energy. There is usually no problem though for the North Pacific Giant Octopus to find more than enough to eat in their natural environment. Some of their common items include fish, crabs, clams, and shrimp.

You may find it hard to believe but they have also been known to consume some of the small species of sharks out there. This can offer them a great meal and one that means they don’t have to hunt anymore for a day or two. They are opportunistic so they will do what they can to benefit as those chances for great meals happen to come their way.

The fact that they can consume these sharks has been verified through the stomach contents of some that have been captured in nets or killed accidentally. Without that type of information to verify it though this would continue to be considered a myth. The fact that they can consume small sharks really shows us how powerful the North Pacific Giant Octopus can be.

Reproduction

Mating is about the only time that the male and female North Pacific Giant Octopus come into contact with each other. The process of mating involves the male taking a sperm sac from his body and placing it into the mantle of the female. This sac has a very thick protective coating on it because she may carry it around for about six months before her eggs are ready to be deposited.

There is also lots of sperm in that sac because she will need to allocate it among approximately 100,000 eggs. That process can take her many weeks to complete and it will consume every bit of her time. The role at that time switches from her own needs to protecting the eggs at any cost. She will do all she can to keep them clean and to keep predators at bay.

Around the same time that her eggs hatch she will be at the end of her life span. For the males they will die very soon after mating. The life span is prolonged for the female to give her time to pass on survival to the next generation. Even in the best of conditions this species of Octopus doesn’t live more than 3-5 years. Yet that is considerably longer than many species with a life span of less than one year.

These offspring are extremely small at birth but have the ability to swim and to be able to find food. Yet they are also highly regarded as a source of food by predators out there. Out of those 100,000 eggs only about 1,000 of them will survive the first few months of life. Even less than that will reach the age of maturity.

Predators

Even though this is a large sized Octopus that doesn’t make it exempt from predators. In fact, there are some large ones out there that find it to make a very nice meal. Among them include Sperm Whales, Sea Otters, and Harbor Seals. It really depends on the location where the happen to live.

Humans do find capturing them to be ideal due to their size. They can offer quite a large amount of meat to be used for various types of food dishes. They also like to get rid of these creatures in the water because they consume many of the other creatures that they are trying to commercially harvest. Even so, there doesn’t seem to be a problem when it comes to their overall numbers remaining out there.

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