Despite scary depictions of succulent violence, the octopus actually has the highest brain-to-body-mass ratio of all the invertebrates. In fact, you can even argue that it has a bigger brain compared to other vertebrates––making the smartest of all invertebrate animals. As part of the cephalopod family, the octopus would rather use sneaky tactics than straight-up violence. Is that an octopus or a rock? Maybe we’ll never know. With more than 300 species scattered all over the world––especially in tropical and temperate seas––they have swum through the water with all eight of their tentacles for almost 300 million years (thanks to Pohlsepia, the first octopus fossil).
Thanks to William Elford Leach, the octopuses have fallen under the Cephalopoda classification, specifically the order Octopoda while belonging to the mollusk order. Scientifically, the octopus is known as Octopus vulgaris. Derived from Ancient Greek vocabulary where okto means “eight” and pous meaning “foot”––creating “eight feet”. For a genius invertebrate, that’s a genius play on words.
What does the Octopus look like?
An eight-armed cephalopod mollusk under the Octopoda order––or just the octopus for short––typically has a saccular body with eight arms with each containing two rows of suckers. Because of what’s known as a “skirt,” this web of tissue joins the arms together while the mouth is found at the center of said skirt. Unbeknownst to many, their mouths are actually made up of sharp beaks and an organ called the radula.
The octopus, given as they are very slippery creatures, boast a soft body that can adapt to spaces very quickly––making it possible for them to squeeze through very tight spaces. No matter what size they are, they’ll be able to pass through inch-long openings. If you’re wondering where their vital organs are, then color me curious too. They have a hollow, bulbous mantle on the back of their heads that contains their gills and other organs. On the outside, you can find their large eyes on the top of their heads.
These creatures also move in a variety of majestic ways, too. They can choose to move through the water with their siphons––frontward and backward––or crawl on the seabed with their two front arms. One more majestic thing about the octopus, but maybe not so much for its predators, is its ability to eject a cloud of ink. For some octopuses, the ink could contain venom with the ability to paralyze the organs of the attacker.
Did you know that it could paralyze you, too? Yup, it could paralyze you to sleep, that is! Gage Beasley’s Lifelike Red Octopus Soft Stuffed Plush Toy is everything you’ve ever wanted in an octopus plushie. Complete with eight of its tentacles and its big round eyes, this octopus is sure to make you sleep like black ink is the only thing you see at night.
Gage Beasley’s Lifelike Red Octopus Soft Plush Toy
Do you or your friends love the deep blue sea? Well, may I fancy you with a deep red octopus plushie? They may just be hiding at the bottom of the ocean, but this one is something you’ll find just next to your pillow.
How does the Octopus eat?
Octopuses are, indeed, carnivores. Their diets revolve solely around other creatures. Their favorites, however, are crabs, lobsters, and other crustaceans. Some species of octopus have been known to feast on planktons too. Other species are known to consume other cephalopods, prawns, and fish, though. When in the act of eating, they are known to pull their prey to their dens and use their radula to drill the shells and flesh away. The final stage of the process involves eating their prays with their very sharp beaks.
How does the Octopus reproduce?
This could get a little too complicated, so strap yourself in. Octopuses normally have two separate sexes. The male octopus has an arm called a hectocotylus––an appendage that inserts packets of sperm (spermatophores) into the mantle cavity of female octopuses. I hope that was a clear enough description of octopus reproduction. During this process, the male usually clings to the female or hovers on her side. After successfully delivering the spermatophores, the male’s life deteriorates and dies within two months.
The eggs laid in holes and, sometimes, under rocks by female octopuses are usually an eighth of an inch long. On average, females can lay around 100,00 eggs at one given time. It would normally take between four to eight weeks for these eggs to hatch. Before hatching, however, the eggs are guarded by the female octopus and occasionally cleans the eggs with the suckers. What a great mom, isn’t she? After hatching, small octopuses spend a couple of weeks with planktons before gauging their lifestyle at the bottom of the sea. No form of parental care will be provided by the female nor the male (assuming it’s still alive, that is).
This reproduction usually happens during the winter. The octopuses are known to be solitary outside of mating. Usually, octopuses have lifespans ranging from six months to five years––depending on what species.
What are the Octopuses’ Distribution and Conservation Status?
A wide majority of the octopus population lives in tropical seas around the world. Normally, you’ll find them cramped up in dens, holes, or crevices in the rocky part of the sea. However, they can also be found in coral reefs and the seabed. Some species, on the other hand, can be found very very deep on the ocean––some would say even at an abyssal depth. The dumbo octopus, in particular, has been known to live more than 13,000 ft below the surface. Who knows what it feeds on under there.
Scientists have no exact data about the octopus population of the world. Not only are they very sleek creatures, but they’re not very easy to track even with today’s technology and trackers. Not to mention that these eight-legged critters choose to be solitary and would spring out black ink in front of you if you tried. The only thing scientists are sure of is that the population of cephalopods and octopuses alike has surged during the 50s.
Researchers trust the fact that, in that sequence of events, factors like changing environments and human fishing have worked and contributed to the rise in population. Take, for example, how humans are usually targeting the octopuses’ natural predators––usually putting a dent in the ocean’s food chain and what octopuses might call an unusual advantage.
Face it. The chances of you seeing an unusual-looking sea creature are higher than finding an octopus in the wild. The reasons why octopuses have lived for so long, even if their lifespans don’t even reach 10 years, are their consistent mode of reproduction and their innate solitary lifestyle. However, I do believe that that’s one of the reasons why they’re loved by the public. The sheer mystery and jet-black ink capabilities are enough to make any sea-creature lover pee their pants. Fortunately, their conservation status isn’t much to be concerned about as they are labeled to not be extinct. However, they have been a big part of seafood cuisine, and hopefully, that doesn’t affect their populous too much.