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Seaweek 2010: Oceans of Life - ours to explore; ours to restore

Creature Features



The octopus has some of the best creature features in the marine environment. Their eight legs with its many suckers come in very handy. They can crawl, grab a crab for lunch or hang on for dear life when they themselves are grabbed. By spreading and drawing their legs together they can swim like an underwater ballet dancer.

Their mouth looks like a parrot beak. It’s perfect for crunching through hard crab skeletons, probably their favorite food. Some octopuses are poisonous. It is thought that when they bite some of their poisonous saliva gets into the wound. But some people who have been poisoned by blue-ringed octopuses and not noticed a bite when they handled one. You have to be very stupid to pick up a blue-ringed octopus because they are extremely deadly.

Octopus eyes are amazing. The eyes focus by pushing the lens in and out like a camera. Our eyes focus by changing the shape of the lens. Their keen eyes are needed for hunting and making sure they are not hunted.

Like most animals, their preferred option when being attacked is to escape. They have one of the best memories of any creature either on land or in the sea. They will know where the nearest place is to hide. Because their body is soft they have no problem squeezing through a hole a tenth of their body width. Like James Bond, an octopus has more than one escape option. They squirt a liquid that’s like black ink that swirls out like a black cloud helping them to disappear. It then squeezes the muscles around its body forcing all the water out through a small tube called a siphon. The water rushing out of the siphon zaps the octopus away just like a jet.

The skin can change colour, the octopus is probably more intelligent than your pet dog and the list of extraordinary features seems to be endless. So for me the octopus has the most amazing combination of creature features of any animal.

An octopus
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