Common Octopus

The octopus is one of my favourite Mediterranean creatures. They’re intelligent, abundant and truly fascinating with their astonishing camouflage skills.  Just take a look at this video I shot while out snorkling.

Locally used Names
Scientific – Octopus Vulgaris
English – (Common) Octopus
Spanish – Pulpo (común)
Catalan – Pop (Roquer)

Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum:
Mollusca – where you also find common invertebrates such as clams and sea slugs.
Class:
Cephalopoda – Where you find Octopus, Squid and Cuttlefish
Order:
Octopoda – Shared with around 300 spices of octopus. 
Family:
Octopodidae – Comprise the majority of all octopus spices.
Genus:
Octopus – The largest genus of octopus with more than 100 spices. 
Subgenus:
Octopus
Species:
Octopus vulgaris 

Distribution

The Common Octopus is widespread and can be found around the globe. They are found in the pacific from the Sea of Japan to Mexico, all the way from the Eastern to the Western Atlantic, from the South East coast of the British Islands, in the Mediterranean, around the Canary Islands and the Azores and all the way down to at least the coast of Senegal.

Habitat

The Common Octopus is considered a Benthic Spices in that it’s preferred habitat is on relatively shallow rocky bottoms outside of the tidal zone. Here is Pollensa Bay we can see them just a few meters off the sandy beach and all the way down to the deepest parts of the bay at around 40m. I often encounter them in my dynamic sessions close to shore, crawling around on the bottom at just 1.5m depth.

Characteristics & Behaviour

The Common Octopus is symmetrical with eight arms and a beaked mouth in the center where the arms meet on the underside of the body. It is highly intelligent and has in experiments proven able to learn how to unscrew the lid of a jar to get to food hidden inside, to get out of complicated mazes and are known to raid lobster traps in search of food.
They have amazing camouflage abilities and can quickly change the colour and texture of their body to blend in with the environment.
They commonly grow up to 3kg, but may occasionally grow to maximum 10kg and a total length of up to 1.3m for males. That’s a seriously big octopus that would definitely spook me if encountered under water.

Common Octopus hiding in a crack

The octopus spends most of its day hiding in cracks and holes waiting for dusk when they go hunting for crabs, crayfish and bivalves. To feed on bivalves they use their beak to punch a hole in the shell of their victim and suck out the flesh. Nice!.

Day time when we are diving you are best off looking for them in cracks and holes where they will try to blend in with the surrounding rocks, so it can take a little training to spot them. If you’re lucky you can spot them crawling on the floor or even swim freely in the water which, they don’t do for any far distances. it’s usually just a way to move quickly from one hiding place to another. it’s like a sprint for them and they can’t keep it up for very long.

Diet
Mainly feeds on crustaceans and bivalves

Commercial use
Common Octopus is popular in the Mediterranean diet and can be found fresh or frozen in most super markets.

Minimum catch size in Mallorca for spearfishing
Not regulated. 

Reproduction
Two spawning seasons a year. In the Mediterranean the first one is in April/May and the second in October.

IUCN Red List Status
Not catalogued

 

Sources

FAO.org
Wikipedia

 

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