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The Octopus Teacher – Creature Feature

Octopus on the reef, changing colour for camouflage

My Octopus Teacher Film, is what inspired this blog.

Our friends were nagging us to watch the film and we finally relented. It got me to thinking, seeing octopi is always such a treat due to their highly enhanced camoflauge. But what do we ACTUALLY know about them? (I’m talking about us mere mortal Scuba Divers, not the studied fraternity)


We know they are the KINGS of camoflauge, morphing themselves into any texture, colour and into any nook or cranny.

There are over 300 species of Octopus in the world, found in mainly tropical and temperate waters. They are classed as finned and finless categories.

Finned Octopus are usually deep sea and found on the ocean floor. Their “fins” are dumbo-like shaped ears on the side of their mantle (head).

Finless Octopi are the ones we see that live in shallower water near the reef.

They are indeed cephalopod mollusks, of the order Octopoda.

You may or may not know that they have no skeleton, making them invertebrates. This allows them to squeeze under rocks away from predators or nooks and crannies to hide from prey.

Octopus Anatomy vs Human Anatomy
Image from Voynetch.com

Fun Facts

Their 8 arms quite literally have a mind of their own. Did you know, an Octopus has 9 brains? Yep, one for each arm and one in the mantle controlling the rest of the body.

The siphons on either side of its mantle are used to propel itself, this uses a lot of oxygen and therefore the Octopus prefers to walk on the ground than swim, thereby not exerting so much energy.

In the movie my Octopus Teacher, a pyjama shark attack leaves our featuring octopus minus a leg. In fact, this can be used as one of their defense mechanisms much like a gecko losing its tail. Octopus purposefully can lose a leg to distract a predator.

They have 3 hearts, 2 of their hearts are used to pump blood across their gills and the 3rd heart to circulate their BLUE blood through the rest of the body. The blue (blood) comes from a copper-rich protein called hemocyanin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream and then to the cells of the octopus’s body.

They breathe through gills that are found in a cavity of the mantle. Their oxygen requirements are much higher than their snail and other mollusk cousins.

The oldest known Octopus fossil is 296 mil years old.

Their ink that is one of their many defense mechanisms actually doesn’t only hide them from their predator but actually also contains a toxin that causes eye irritation and confuses their sense of smell. It’s so potent that a slow octopus would die in its own ink.

Life SPan and Breeding

The average life span of an Octopus is 18 months. They basically live to breed. Males seek multiple mates and within months of mating will die. The female octopus will lay her eggs and carry them with her until they grow strong enough to be released. Usually she releases them in strings around her “nest” (More commonly known as a den) Laying up to 100 000 little eggs, she nurtures and protects them from predators for the next few months. She has no time to eat during the incubation period of her eggs (anywhere between 2 months and up to 10 months in some species). In which time she gets weaker and weaker until her eggs can be freed whisked away by a plankton cloud she finally whithers and dies.

The longest living Octopus is the Giant Pacific Octopus which can live up to 5 years (as long as it doesn’t mate)

For more Creature Features and other stories, follow our Blog.

references: national geographic, sciencekids.co.nz, voynetch.com, my octopus teacher (the film)