Wednesday, September 21, 2016

By, J.E. Rogers

This week I decided to write about an interesting animal that fascinates me. They have a lot of arms, they live fairly short lives, they come in large and small sizes, and the pluralization of their name has been the cause of ongoing arguments. Let’s take a look at the octopus.

There are many species of Octopus, and they vary in size from twelve to thirty-six inches. However, there are species much smaller, and the Giant Pacific Octopus is much larger. The record Giant Pacific Octopus was thirty feet across and weighed six hundred pounds. According to this video, that’s extreme. I agree.

Let’s review a few facts. First, the octopus is a cephalopod. They’re in the same family with squids, cuttlefish, and the nautilus. Second, they have arms, not tentacles. Third, and strangest fact of all, octopuses have three hearts. Two of them are used to pump blood to their lungs, and the third pumps to the rest of the body. Fourth, they can live as briefly as six months or as long as five years. Finally, the octopus is very intelligent and is believed to be the smartest of all invertebrates, having an uncanny ability to solve problems. For example, in this video, you’ll see an octopus open a jar to get at its meal. What a clever guy!

Photo credit:

There is a very poisonous octopus that lives in, wait for it—Australia! That’s probably not a surprise since there are a lot of animals that can kill you and a lot of those animals live on the continent of Australia. At birth, the Blue-ringed Octopus is the size of a pea and grows to about the size of a golf ball. Seems incongruous that something so small could be so poisonous. They are docile, but will strike if provoked. You don’t want to aggravate this little guy because the Blue-ringed Octopus’s neurotoxin (poison) is 10,000 times more potent than cyanide and it can kill twenty-six adults at once. Okay, I don’t know about you, but I’m not swimming off the coast of Australia. 

To read more about the Blue-Ringed Octopus, visit this site:

A recently discovered member of the octopus family is the kissing octopus, which is called the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus. He’s very attractive, as you can see from the below picture, but in my opinion, he’s not pretty enough to kiss. They are called the Kissing Octopus because they mate with an embrace, their beaks and suckers pressed together. This is unusual behavior for any other octopus species. If you’d like to learn more about this octopus, to this site:

Larger Pacific Striped Octopus
Photo credit: Richard Ross

So here’s why I’m confused about the plural form of the word octopus. You might ask, is it octopi, octopuses, or octopodes. Ummm… It bothered me too, so I offer the following video for you from Merriam-Webster. I think it will help to settle this particular conundrum.

To learn more about octopuses, visit the following sites:

I’ll leave you with this one creepy crawler octopus. If you are among my readers who are a bit squeamish about the octopus, you might not want to watch this video. In it, you’ll see an octopus that comes out of the water to hunt. According to Julian Finn, (senior curator of marine invertebrates at the Museum Victoria in Australia) who spoke with Scientific American, “Crawling along out of water is not uncommon for species of octopus that live in the intertidal or near shore… many octopus species emerge to hunt in the pools of water left behind by the receding tide… Octopuses often carry prey items when foraging, returning to their lairs to consume them. It is possible that the octopus in the video was either finished consuming the contents of the crab or was too tired to continue carrying it on land.”

Thank you for stopping by and please come back next week.


Jeanne E. Rogers, Author
The Sword of Demelza, The Gift of Sunderland, and
One Hot Mess, a Child’s Environmental Fable
Award Winning Middle-Grade Fantasy, Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!

Visit my bookshop to purchase a signed copy. 

Visit my bookshop to purchase a signed copy. 

Visit my bookshop to purchase a signed copy. 

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