Tag Archive: octopus


The Octopus and the Pufferfish

During our recent expedition to Belize, we were able to observe Caribbean Reef Octopus nightly as we explored the intertidal near our water huts on the edge of Glover’s Atoll.
We watched in fascination as the octopus fished under coral rubble by elongating their arms  ladened with sensory suckers which can taste their food once captured. Their beak/mouth is positioned at the base of their 8 arms and as Erica Berg keenly observed, their mouth is in their armpits!
We noticed a small sharpnose pufferfish become momentarily trapped by a sucker then quickly released as the octopus likely detected the unfavorable catch. Puffers contain tetrodotoxin, a powerful neurotoxin which protects the puffer from predation. Bobbing to the surface, the tiny puffer inflated it’s body and wobbled away.
Our group of women were such keen observers! We learned from each other sharing our daily observations during our 12 day blue water adventure! Join a natuarlist-led adventure at http://www.bluewaterventures.org!
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Truly a great find yesterday while tidepooling at Davenport Landing, Octopus rubenscens, the red octopus! Watch closely and you will see that it’s spotted appearance mimics the bits of shell that are adhering to the sea anemones in the background. The spots disappear for a moment and the body develops a deep red hue as it passes over a patch of purple urchins then quickly develops the molted spots as it nears the shell laden anemones again. Incredible.
Octopus are masters of disguise and accomplish their pigment changes using chromatophores,1000’s of color cells that are embedded in their skin. By expanding or contracting these sacs of pigment they can instantaneously alter their color to match their surroundings. They may even morph the texture of their skin to mimic algae, rocks or coral.