An octopus is an eight-limbed mollusk that belongs to the order Octopoda, which translates as “eight legs.” It is also a member of the class Cephalopoda which includes squid, cuttlefish, and nautiloid.
Although octopuses are adept predators, they have several predators of their own. In this article, we will be answering the question, “What eats octopus.”
Top 12 Octopus Predators: What Animals Eat Octopus?
Most octopus species are found in the deep sea. Hence, the majority of their predators are deep sea creatures. Nevertheless, surface predators also have a taste for the eight-limbed cephalopods. Here are the top 12 octopus predators you should know.
Humans are true omnivores and would eat almost anything. Octopus dishes are found all over the world, especially in Japan, Korea, Maldives, Mauritius, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Tunisia, Turkey, and the United States.
Although not all whales prey on octopuses, toothed whales, like sperm whales, beaked whales, and white whales are top octopus predators.
Behind their reputation as adorable entertainers, dolphins have a reputation as efficient predators, and octopus is not off the menu.
4. Saltwater Crocodiles
Octopuses stand little chance against saltwater crocodiles. These reptiles have the strongest bite in the animal kingdom and can easily tear an octopus apart.
Seals are semi-aquatic carnivores, and their primary diet is fish. They also eat octopuses, especially the Weddell seal, which are well-known as octopus eaters.
6. Conger Eels
Conger eels are fierce predators and would attack even humans, capable of biting off chunks of flesh. Their diet consists primarily of shrimps and crustaceans, but they also prey on octopuses.
Among octopus predators, sharks stand out as the biggest of them all and one of the fiercest. Common species that prey on octopuses are dogfish, whitetip reef, nurse, and hammerhead sharks.
8. Sea Otters
Endemic to the North Pacific Ocean, sea otters feed on animals of all sizes, and octopuses are not exempted. They have a high metabolism and consume large amounts of food at a time.
9. Wandering Albatross
The wandering albatross is a large seabird that is found in the Southern Hemisphere. Octopuses and squid make up their main diet, but they also feed on fish and crustaceans.
10. Common Shag
Also called green cormorants, common shags belong to the cormorant family and have an aquatic diet. They are medium-sized seabirds and are known to prey on octopuses.
Penguins, like dolphins, are considered adorable and harmless. An octopus would think differently as they are known to prey on cephalopods.
12. Sea lion
Sealions are eared pinnipeds and are closely related to seals. They are carnivores whose primary diet consists of squids, octopuses, and fish.
How Does an Octopus Defend Itself?
With so many predators, it is only fair that the octopus has developed ways to defend itself and avoid being lunch.
One of these strategies is propelling itself by shooting jets of water from its mantle. It is flexible enough to pass through tight spaces when attacked and can change its color and shape to help it camouflage in its surroundings.
The octopus can also produce ink to distract its predators, and if it loses an arm during the encounter, it can quickly grow a new one. They are also venomous.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Whales Eat Octopus?
Whales are divided into baleen and toothed whales. While baleen whales do not have teeth and subsist mainly on plankton, toothed whales eat bigger prey, including octopuses.
Do People Eat Octopus?
People eat octopus, which is popular in Mediterranean and Asian cuisines. However, there is significant activism against this because octopuses can feel pain.
Do Sharks Eat Octopus?
Sharks eat octopuses but only with some difficulty. Octopuses are intelligent creatures and have several ways of evading a shark.
Do Eels Eat Octopus?
Yes, they do. Moray and Conger’s eels are among the host of animals that hunt octopuses for food.
Do Dolphins Eat Octopus?
Dolphins eat octopus using two methods. They thrash them around until they are cut into smaller pieces or fling them in the air to stun and kill them.
Do Seals Eat Octopus?
Octopuses are not easy meals, even for seals. Hence, the predators would fling them into the air or against hard surfaces to tenderize them.