What has eight legs and a big distinctively large brain?
The octopus of course! (Plural: octopuses, octopodes or octopi).
The octopus has two eyes, four pairs of arms, and It has a beak with its mouth at the center point of the arms. It has no internal or external skeleton (although some species have a remnant of a shell inside their bodies), allowing it to squeeze through tight places.
Octopuses are among the most intelligent and behaviorally diverse of all invertebrates and there are around 300 recognized species.
Octopuses are highly intelligent, possibly more so than any other invertebrates. The exact extent of their intelligence and learning capability is much debated, but maze and problem-solving experiments have shown evidence of a memory system that can store both short- and long-term memory.
Octopuses inhabit diverse regions of the ocean, including coral reefs, open ocean, and the ocean floor. They have numerous strategies for defending themselves against predators, including the squirting of ink, the use of camouflage and threatening color or pattern displays, their ability to jet quickly through the water, and their ability to hide.
They trail their eight arms behind them as they swim. All octopuses are venomous, but only one group, the blue-ringed octopus, is known to be deadly to humans.
Heavyweight to Flyweight
The giant pacific octopus, is said to be the largest known octopus. Adults usually weigh around 15 kg, with an arm span of up to 4.3 m. The world’s smallest known octopus is the Octopus Wolfi. The Octopus Wolfi measures only 1.5 cm in length. These tiny octopuses are found in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, and a full grown Octopus Wolfi weighs less than a gram.
Left To Fend For Themselves
Even the octopuses that have the longest lifespan (the Giant Pacific Octopus) simply doesn’t live long enough after the young are born to teach them very much. Approximately 6 weeks after mating, the female lays 20,000–100,000 eggs over the course of several days on the inner side of her rocky den.
For the next 5–8 months she tends the eggs, carefully cleaning and airating them until they hatch. The female does not leave her eggs, even to eat, and will die within weeks or months after they hatch, gradually becoming weaker as she dies of starvation. The male dies shortly after mating. The typical life span of the octopus is between 3–5 years.
All Arms & Legs
Octopus arms show a variety of complex reflex actions that persist even when they have no input from the brain.
Octopus arms do not become tangled or stuck to each other because the suction cups have chemical sensors that recognize octopus skin and prevent them from sticking together.
Some octopuses, such as the mimic octopus, will move their arms in ways that copy the shape and movements of other sea creatures.
‘Paul The Octopus’ – The 2010 World Cup
Paul was a common octopus who supposedly predicted the results of football matches. He made many accurate predictions in the 2010 World Cup which brought him worldwide attention as an animal oracle.
During divinations, Paul’s keepers would present him with two boxes containing food. Each box was identical except for the fact that they were decorated with the different team flags of the competitors of an upcoming football match. Whichever box Paul ate from first would be considered his prediction for which team would win the match.
His keepers at the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany, mainly tasked him with predicting the outcomes of international matches in which the German national football team was playing.
Paul correctly chose the winning team in all seven of Germany’s matches in the 2010 World Cup—including Germany’s third place play-off win over Uruguay on 10 July. Following these predictions, his success rate rose to 85%, with an overall record of 11 out of 13 correct predictions.
Paul also foretold Spain’s win against the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup Final by eating a mussel from the box with the Spanish flag on it.
Unfortunately, Paul is no longer with us, so you will have to get your predictions for the outcome of the 2018 World cup finals from another intelligent animal.
FUN FACTS ABOUT OCTOPUSES!
They can solve problems, and they are known to remove a plug or unscrew a lid to get prey from a container.
They are the first invertebrates to be seen using tools, such as using coconut shells to hide from potential predators.
Common octopuses will collect crustacean shells and other objects to construct fortresses, or “gardens” around their lairs. Just like the Beatles sang about!
Other octopuses carry shells for protection.
All octopuses are venomous, but only the small blue-ringed octopuses are known to be deadly to humans.
There are around 300 recognized octopus species.
Octopuses have three hearts. Two pump blood through each of the two gills, while the third pumps blood through the body.
When discovered, an octopus will release a cloud of black ink to obscure its attacker’s view, giving it time to swim away. The ink even contains a substance that dulls a predator’s sense of smell, making the fleeing octopus harder to track.
Fast swimmers, they can jet forward by expelling water through their mantles. And their soft bodies have no internal or external skeleton so they can squeeze into impossibly small cracks and crevices where predators can’t follow.
The amazing mimic octopuses are capable of changing their body shape to mimic other animals.
If all else fails, an octopus can lose an arm to escape a predator’s grasp and re-grow it later with no permanent damage.
Their brain grows their entire life, in cells numbers and size… some researchers believe that if they could live as long as us, they would be far more intelligent than Steven Hawking.
Their beaks are the hardest known thing on our planet; resistant against even acid as there are no minerals in them. So are often found undigested in the stomachs of pod Whales.
Octopuses on Koh Tao
Although not to common on Koh Tao to spot a reef octopus, they are known to be located at a few of the dive sites around. If you have a keen eye, and the patients of a slot, you might see them at White Rock, Twins, the coastline of Nang Yuan or even Junkyard.
Here on Koh Tao the octopus is known more to come out exploring during night dives. So get your torches greased, and hangout around the edges where rock meets sand, you may just see one?
Author: Tina Major (PADI MI #250960)