Joining up with Marcy over at Ben & Me for “Blogging through the Alphabet”.
Since our family has a general love and appreciation for all the animals the Lord has created…I am going to attempt to “Blog through the Alphabet” using animals. Here is what we have done so far:
A for Alpaca B for Bearded Dragon C for Crocodile D for Donkey E for Elephant Shrew F for Fennec Fox G for Grey Mouse Lemur H for Howler Monkey I for Indian Palm Squirrel J is for Jellyfish K is for Koala L is for Lionfish M is for Monitor Lizard N is for Nurse Shark
And now…”O” for Octopus (the common octopus)…
Considered the most intelligent of all invertebrates, the common octopus is found in the tropical and temperate waters of the world’s oceans.
There are about 300 species of octopuses (Octopoda) alive today. Theses species are divided into two groups, the Cirrina and the Incirrina. The Cirrina have two fins on their head and a small internal shell. The Incirrina include many of the better-known species of octopuses, most of which are bottom-dwelling species.
Similar to a squid, the common octopus is classified as a mollusk, which is a soft-bodied invertebrate with a shell. It has no skeletal structure but does possess a skull, which protects its brain. It also has a sharp beak and a toothed tongue called a radula, which it uses to pry open and drill into the shells of prey, like crabs and clams.
They can grow to about 4.3 feet in length and weigh up to 22 pounds, although averages are much smaller.
Octopuses are solitary animals who make their homes in rocks and coral or dig burrows. They scatter rocks and shells around their dens to hide them. They leave the dens only to eat or reproduce.
Octopuses have three hearts.Two of the hearts work exclusively to move blood beyond the animal’s gills, while the third keeps circulation flowing for the organs. The organ heart actually stops beating when the octopus swims, explaining the species’ penchant for crawling rather than swimming, which exhausts them.
Two-thirds of an octopus’ neurons reside in its arms, not its head. As a result, the arms can problem solve while their owners are busy doing something else, like checking out a cave for more edible goodies. It has eight long limbs protruding from a globe-shaped head (or mantle). Two rows of suckers line their tentacles and can sense taste.
When confronted with a potential threat, the octopus employs several defense tactics:
- pigment cells in the skin contract to allow for uncanny camouflage abilities while also adapting the texture of their skin and their body posture to blend in seamlessly with their surroundings
- adopt deflective markings to scare away potential predators. The areas around the eyes, suckers, arms, and web may darken so the octopus appears more threatening. Their coloration also reflects their mood. While their pigmentation is normally brown, octopuses may turn white, which shows fear, or red, which demonstrates anger.
- flight. After releasing a cloud of purple-black ink, the octopus propels itself by funneling water from its gills at the top of its mantle through its siphon, located at the bottom of the mantle. It can reach speeds as high as 25 mph, but cannot maintain this speed for long.
Octopus ink doesn’t just hide the animal.The ink also physically harms enemies. It contains a compound called tyrosinase, which causes a blinding irritation. It also garbles creatures’ sense of smell and taste. If the octopus doesn’t escape it can die as well.
In early spring, octopuses move closer to the shore to mate. Two months after mating, the female releases 100,000-500,000 eggs which she obsessively guards and tends to. Prioritizing her motherly duties, the mother stops eating. But she doesn’t starve to death, when the eggs hatch, the female’s body turns on her. Her body undertakes a cascade of cellular suicide, starting from the optic glands and rippling outward through her tissues and organs until she dies. After mating, males wander off to die.
Octopus only live 12-18 months. Their hatchlings are carried by the currents, and they feed on plankton for 45-60 days. Only one or two of the hatchlings will survive to adulthood.
I hope you have learned some fun things about the Octopus! Come back next week to see what interesting facts we discuss about an animal that starts with the letter P!
Here’s praying we all have fun learning!