Octopuses: 20 Amazing Facts

Octopuses are bizarre, beautiful, clever, and creative. Some are very small, some are extremely large, they are camouflaging pros, and they can solve puzzles… Want to know more about these intriguing ocean aliens?

We have 20 amazing facts about octopuses that will blow your mind… and potentially help you win your next pub trivia night.

Check out these ink-redible octopus facts:

1.An octopus is a cephalopod: A group of animals which do not have backbones.

2. Similar to clams, an octopus is a mollusc, in the order ‘Octopoda’. The order Octopoda contains around 300 different species.

3. Depending on the species, octopuses can be found in various depths of the ocean. The dumbo octopus is a species that can be found as deep as one mile underwater.

4. The word "octopus" comes from the Greek: "oktō" meaning "eight" and "pous" meaning "foot".

5. Octopuses have three hearts and their blood is blue due to being copper-based.

6. Octopuses are considered to be the most intelligent of all invertebrates. They have been known to use tools, open jars, complete mazes, and even recognise individual human faces.

7. An octopus’s arms are lined with hundreds of suckers. They use these suckers to grab and hold things. The suckers are incredibly strong; The suckers on a Giant Pacific octopus for example can hold 35lbs each.

8. An octopus’s skin contains thousands of specialized cells that allow them to change color. Changing color helps them to camouflage into their surroundings to avoid danger. These cells are called chromatophores, and each chromatophore has a sac at the center which is filled with pigments of red, yellow, black, or brown. They can change color in less than 30milliseconds.

9. Depending on the species, octopuses come in various sizes, from one inch to 30ft long.

10. Octopuses have quite short lifespans. Depending on the species, some octopuses can live to be three or four years old, whereas smaller species can only live for six months or one year.

11. Bored octopuses will often eat their own arms. This is called autophagy.

12. An octopus’s arms are not to be mistaken for tentacles. Most octopuses have eight arms and no tentacles, whereas most cuttlefish and squid will have eight arms and two tentacles. Here is how you can tell the difference: If the invertebrate structure has suckers only at the tip, it is a tentacle, if it has suckers along the whole length, it is an arm.

13. An octopus will release a dark colored ink to protect itself when it feels in danger. The cloud of ink confuses predators and hides the octopus while it makes a quick getaway.

14. An octopus’s mouth is below the arms and is a hard, sharp beak.

15. Octopuses are only found in saltwater.

16. An octopus can regrow its arms, without any loss of function.

17. To reproduce, the male will use one of its arms to insert a sperm sac into the female. This arm is extra long, which allows the male to keep a distance during the mating process. This is an adaptation that has occurred due to females often killing and eating the males during or after mating.

18. A Giant Pacific octopus can weigh more than 600lbs.

19. Octopuses not only have the ability to change color, they can also change their skin’s texture, too. Using small regions in their skin known as papillae, which contract and draw soft tissue to the surface, the octopus can blend in better with corals and rocks.

20. Female octopuses can lay up to around 100,000 eggs. She will often die shortly after the eggs hatch.

4 places to see 4 octopus species

Now you have learned so much about octopuses, you are probably dying to go and dive with one. Here are the best places to try and spot a few of them in the wild:

1.Anilao, Philippines

In hues of red, orange, and brown, with splodges and stripes of white, the Wonderpus octopus grows to around nine inches long and can best be found in Anilao in the Philippines.

2. Sulawesi, Indonesia

The Coconut octopus can be found in this area of Indonesia and is known for hiding inside coconut shells to create an armor. They are often spotted in the shallows, where the shells have been discarded.

3. Mabul, Malaysia

As tiny as two inches long, the blue ringed octopus may be cute, but it is the world’s most dangerous octopus. With a toxic bite of tetrodotoxin (the same venom found in pufferfish), these tiny 8 armed beauties can kill a human in minutes. Despite its deadly bite, the blue ringed octopus is extremely beautiful to look at, and will only attack if provoked. So seeing one from a distance is a real treat. Mabul in Malaysia is the best place to find one.

4. Canary Islands, Spain

The common octopus can best be found in the beautiful waters of the Spanish Canary Islands. This octopus has an arm span of around 3ft long, is extremely fast moving through the water, and can fit its entire body into the smallest of spaces. Common does not mean boring when it comes to these beauties!

Are octopuses endangered?

No, octopuses are not endangered at this point. However, much like many other marine species, octopuses are facing many threats to their survival in the future. Octopuses are a popular cuisine all around the world, and especially in Asia. Overfishing may cause numbers to drop rapidly, as well as habitat destruction from damaging commercial fishing practices, and ocean pollution due to plastic waste.

If you would like to do your part to protect octopuses and other marine life, why not become part of the SSI Blue Oceans movement, which brings like minded people together who want to support conservation and the sustainable use of aquatic environments.

Register for free on the MySSI app to gain access to free trial programs and Blue Oceans materials, with access to news, videos, and upcoming events.