It takes an animal a different level of cool to change color, texture, and shape, spray ink, pack lethal amounts of venom, and still be called the smartest invertebrate in the world. The octopus is all of these and fascinates anyone that comes across them.
Octopuses are intelligent creatures and puzzle even experts with their amazing survival skills. They belong to the class Cephalopoda which includes squids, nautiloids, and cuttlefishes. This article focuses on the various types of octopuses and fun facts you would love to know.
How Many Species of Octopus Are There?
There are over 300 species of octopuses, and they can be found in every ocean in the world.
Octopuses can also be found in every marine habitat — coral reefs, seabed, intertidal zones, and even abysmal depths. To have such habitat diversity, octopuses have evolved to be one of the most behaviorally diverse invertebrates in the world.
With such diversity, it is little surprise that there are so many species in the order Octopoda. Here are some species of octopus you should know:
18 Amazing Species of Octopus
1. Blue-ringed Octopus
The blue-ringed octopus actually is four different species of the genus Hapalochlaena. They are easily recognized by their blue rings, which glow when they are threatened. It produces a lethal poison capable of killing 26 humans within minutes. Even worse, its bite is painless and may be noticed too late.
2. Mimic Octopus
This unique species (Thaumoctopus mimicus) has brown and white stripes all over their bodies and by changing color, texture, and shape, they can impersonate other animals. They can mimic anemones, jellyfish, feather stars, giant crabs, mantis shrimps, etc.
3. Giant Pacific Octopus
The Giant pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) is the closest thing to the Kraken we have, and we should be grateful. It is the largest octopus species and the Guinness World Book of Records lists a record-breaker which weighed 300 pounds; informal reports exist of an individual weighing 600 pounds and having an arm’s length of 30 feet.
4. Common Octopus
Being called common belittles the uniqueness of the common octopus (Octopus vulgaris). The species has large eyes and a head that seems too heavy for them.
With the exception of polar and subpolar waters, they can be found anywhere in the world. Given their abundant and distributed population, it is not hard to guess why they are called “common”.
5. Coconut Octopus
An example of octopus intelligence is the survival technique used by the coconut octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus). These octopuses carry around coconut shells they find in the ocean and hide in them when they sight a predator.
6. California Two-spot Octopus
Also called “Bimac”, these octopi (Octopus bimaculoides) got their name from two blue circles on either side of their head. These spots distract prey who think they have not been sighted, unaware of the real eyes on the octopus’ mantle.
7. Blanket Octopus
With such diversity in species, it was only a matter of time before evolution took weirdness up a notch in the octopus tree. The blanket octopus (Tremoctopus spp.) gets its name from their transparent arms, which make it look like a wet blanket as it swims through the ocean. There are four different species.
8. Caribbean Reef Octopus
The coral reefs of the tropical waters of western Atlantic, Bahamas, Caribbean, and northern South America are the home of the Caribbean reef octopus (Octopus briareus).
These beautiful creatures have blue-green skin that reflects light at night. They have a short lifespan of 10–12 months and are cannibalistic, eating other octopuses to protect their territories.
9. Mosaic Octopus
The mosaic octopus (Abdopus abaculus) is one of the least understood octopus species and, thus, quite mysterious. They are members of the Incirrina sub-order and have evolved spiked regions to help them blend into the Indonesian reef they inhabit.
10. Algae Octopus
When these octopi (Abdopus aculeatus) sense the presence of a predator, they camouflage as a gastropod overgrown with algae, hence, their name. They can remain camouflaged for hours, tiny creatures with 10-inch legs.
11. Sandbird Octopus
The sandbird octopus (Amphioctopus aegina) loves to dig into sandy holes like the sandbirds found on the Japanese coastline, which is how they got their name. These octopuses are a delicacy in Japan and are eaten in traditional cuisines.
12. Capricorn Octopus
These nocturnal species (Callistoctopus alpheus) are indigenous to Australia, finding shelter in caves and services during the day and coming out to hunt at night. They are small octopuses with a mantle measuring 3.1 inches and get their name from the shape their arms form around their bodies.
13. Seven-arm Octopus
Seven-arm octopuses (Haliphron atlanticus) are one of the largest octopus species growing up to 11 feet long and weighing 165 pounds. Although they also have eight arms, at first glance it seems like they have seven arms because they hide the eighth arm among the other arms.
14. Dumbo Octopus
The Dumbo octopus (Grimpoteuthis spp.)is the deepest living octopus, found at depths of 9,800 to 13,000 feet. Their fins look like huge ears and give them a semblance of the 1941 Disney film Dumbo, which is how they got their name.
15. Hammer Octopus
The hammer octopus (Octopus australis) is endemic to Australian waters, and its population stretches from Queensland to New South Wales. The species gets its name from a club-like arm in males used for reproduction.
16. Lilliput Longarm Octopus
Also called the Atlantic Longarm octopus (Macrotritopus defilippi), the typical length of their arms is twice their head length. When they swim, they flatten their body to mimic a flatfish and can also camouflage as seaweed.
17. Atlantic Pygmy Octopus
Discovered in 1929, the Atlantic pygmy octopus (Octopus joubini) gets its name from its size, reaching a maximum length of 3.5 inches. Their habitats are the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean in the Atlantic Ocean.
18. Flapjack Octopus
The flapjack octopus (Opisthoteuthis californiana) has webbed tentacles, a feature common to umbrella octopuses such as the Dumbo and blanket octopuses. Like Dumbo, it is popular in pop culture as Nemo’s classmate Pearl in the Disney cartoon Finding Nemo.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Scientific Name of an Octopus?
The scientific name for an octopus is Octopoda, meaning “eight feet”. Octopoda is also the taxonomic order of octopuses.
What is a Group of Octopuses Called?
A group of octopuses is called a consortium. Octopuses, by nature, are solitary creatures and some species cannibalize rival octopuses. However, they can be found in groups in the wild, although these groups are not common.
What is the Smallest Octopus Species?
The star-sucker pygmy octopus (Octopus wolfi) is the smallest octopus species. It measures less than an inch in length and weighs less than a gram.
What is the Rarest Octopus?
The octopus Cirrothauma magna is so rare it does not have a common name. Only four of the species have ever been captured, and it is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Data Deficient.