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19 Types of Octopus: Facts and Photos

Various types of octopuses are among the most intriguing ocean inhabitants, known for their intelligence, color-changing abilities, and alien-looking appearances. This article is a detailed guide to the top 16 species of octopus, including their distinct traits, behaviors, diet, and impact on evolution. Learn to appreciate these soft-bodied undersea creatures as you read through.

Related Read: Octopus Facts.

19 Types of Octopus Species

Octopuses are ocean-dwelling creatures classified in the class Cephalopoda and the order Octopoda. Around 300 known species are classified into three primary groupings: the Cirrina, or finned octopuses; the Incirrina, or unfinned octopuses; and the superfamily Argonautoidea.

Related read: What is The Plural Of Octopus — Is It Octopi Or Octopuses?

1. Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini)

Giant Pacific Octopus
Photo by Karen on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: The Giant Pacific Octopus is the largest octopus species and one of the most intelligent. They can solve puzzles, open jars, and mimic other animals to avoid predators. 

The North Pacific is home to the Giant Pacific Octopus, whose largest known specimen measures 32 feet from arm to arm and weighs 600 pounds.

Despite its vast size, the octopus only lives for 3 to 5 years. It is also a solitary creature, only seeking companionship during mating. Moreover, mating triggers a series of changes called senescence, which causes rapid aging and eventual death.

After mating, the female Giant Pacific Octopus lays thousands of eggs and watches over them until they hatch and venture into the ocean. Unfortunately, the female octopus often dies of starvation soon after.

2. Common Octopus (Octopus vulgaris)

common octopus
Photo by Anneli Salo on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: The common octopus is an intelligent creature that can solve problems. Moreover, scientists consider it an expert explorer. 

These octopuses live in the tropical and temperate depths of the world's oceans and live only for 1-2 years. Octopus vulgaris, has a broad geographical range, extending beyond the Mediterranean Sea to the eastern Atlantic Ocean, the southern coast of England, the Canary Islands, the Azores, and as far south as the coast of Mauritania in Africa. It also dwells in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Their soft body enables them to fit through tight spaces, protecting them from predators and giving them access to more habitats. Additionally, they can change skin color and texture, allowing them to blend in with their surroundings.

3. Dumbo Octopus (Grimpoteuthis)

Dumbo Octopus
Photo by NOAA Ocean Exploration & Research on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: The Dumbo Octopus has ear-like fins on either side of its head, making it look like the famous Disney character Dumbo. These fins also add to the animal’s mobility.

Moreover, the Dumbo Octopus dwells between 1,300 and 23,000 feet below the surface, making them one of the deepest-dwelling octopuses. While food is scarce in their dark, cold abyss, they feed on crustaceans, worms, and bivalves. Unlike other cephalopods, Dumbo Octopuses do not try to “capture” prey but swallow whatever comes in their path.

4. Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus)

Mimic Octopus
Photo by Elias Levy on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: The Mimic Octopus, as its name indicates, can modify its color, shape, and movement to imitate creatures like mantis shrimp, venomous lionfish, giant crabs and sea snakes. 

Mimic Octopuses have fascinated scientists since their discovery in 1998. This octopus lives along the Indonesian coastline and can perform up to fifteen transformations3. Check out their mindblowing transformation here.

5. Blue-Ringed Octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata)

Blue-ringed octopus
Photo by Angell Williams on Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: Despite its small size, this Blue-ringed octopus contains a neurotoxin that can paralyze its prey within minutes1. Its vibrant blue rings warn potential predators to keep their distance. 

The Blue-ringed Octopus is a small octopus species found in the ocean. Its potent venom, called tetrodotoxin, can kill adult humans. Moreover, the octopus’ blue rings pulsate when threatened, warning intruders to back off.

This venomous type of octopus lives in the balmy waters of the Indo-Pacific region, from Japan to Australia, camouflaging themselves in shallow tide pools and coral reefs.

It close relative, the Southern Blue-ringed Octopus, is a smaller species with smaller blue rings that lack the black outlines characteristic of Hapalochlaena lunulata.

6. California Two-Spot Octopus (Octopus bimaculoides)

Fun Fact: The California Two-Spot Octopus has two blue spots, or ocelli, under its eyes. These spots help the octopus appear larger and more intimidating to potential predators. 

Moreover, this octopus–also known as the bimac octopus–typically conceals itself in the kelp forests of the Eastern Pacific Ocean, particularly along shallow waters, at most 20 meters.

7. Common Blanket Octopus (Tremectopus violaceus)

Fun Fact: The violet blanket octopus has a high sexual dimorphism. Females can grow up to two meters long, while males only reach a maximum length of about 2.4 centimeters. Scientists first discovered a male specimen in 2002 near the Great Barrier Reef. However, the common blanket octopus spends most of its life in warm ocean waters worldwide. 

Small females and males measuring less than 7 cm often carry the tentacles of the Portuguese man o' war. This interesting adaptation is believed to be a defense mechanism and a means of capturing prey. However, this adaptation loses effect as the octopus grows larger, which may explain why males of this species are typically smaller.

Meanwhile, females have webbing in their arms, making them look bigger to potential predators. Additionally, they can easily detach the webbing if a predator bites into it, allowing them to escape. 

8. Atlantic Pygmy Octopus (Octopus joubini)

Fun Fact: The Atlantic Pygmy Octopus measures only about 4 inches long and can change its color and texture to mimic rocks, coral, and algae. 

Despite their small size, these octopuses are skilled hunters. Like many other octopus species they use their potent venom to capture crustaceans. They are also solitary, only seeking their kind for mating; afterward, female octopuses lay numerous eggs and guard them until they hatch.

9. Star-Sucker Pygmy Octopus (Octopus wolfi)

Fun Fact: This octopus is the smallest known octopus species in the world, measuring only about 2.5 centimeters long. It’s so tiny it can fit on one's finger. 

Moreover, its name comes from its distinctive suckers shaped like tiny stars. It can also change color at will, accurately mimicking its surroundings and even replicating its texture to hide from predators and prey. 

10. Algae Octopus (Abdopus aculeatus)

Algae octopus
Photo by IchHier--15er on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: The Algae octopus, sometimes also called the Mosaic Octopus, is the “only land octopus” since it lives on beaches. It walks from one tidal pool to another while hunting crabs2.

This unique type of octopus can blend in with the sea floor thanks to its resting camouflage that looks like an algae-covered shell.  These creatures live in the intertidal zones along the Philippine, Indonesian, and Northern Australian coasts, building dens on the sea floor, which they line with small pebbles.

11. Larger Pacific Striped Octopus (Amphioctopus aegina)

Larger Pacific Striped Octopus
Photo by Dave Maass on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: Unlike other octopuses, the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus displays cooperative behavior and engages in social interactions4. They live in small groups and even participate in mating rituals together.

The Larger Pacific Striped Octopus thrives in clusters of up to 40 individuals. While hunting, the octopus can startle and trigger movement in its prey with a quick touch, allowing it to trap its prey easily. Additionally, the octopus uses two arms to maintain an upright posture while moving.

12. Caribbean Reef Octopus (Octopus briareus)

Caribbean Reef Octopus
Photo by Alessandro Dona on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: The Caribbean Reef Octopus has sharp beaks that crack open crab and lobster shells. 

Moreover, they are solitary creatures that only seek other octopuses during the mating season. The female lays up to 500 eggs and fiercely guards them until they hatch, putting their safety over her well-being.

13. Day Octopus (Octopus cyanea)

Day Octopus
Photo by Rickard Zerpe on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: The Day Octopus, also called the Hawaiian Day Octopus, is awake during the day, unlike most of its nocturnal relatives. 

Like others, it is also intelligent enough to use tools and solve problems. While it doesn’t have a backbone, it survives in the water through its ability to change color as camouflage.

14. East Pacific Red Octopus (Octopus rubescens)

 Red Octopus
Photo by Will Sides on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 4.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: The Red Octopus can easily escape from tight spaces, even those as small as a quarter-inch in diameter, enabling it to escape danger and navigate its environment effectively. 

At night, the Red Octopus, also known the the Flapjack Octopus, hunts crustaceans and small fish, using jet propulsion to move through the water quickly. It can also manipulate objects and solve puzzles.

15. Coconut Octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus)

Coconut Octopus
Photo by Rickard Zerpe on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: The Coconut Octopus can use tools. They carry coconut shells and seashells as portable shelters and armor against potential predators.

This medium-sized octopus lives in the western Pacific Ocean, often in coastal seabeds with sandy or muddy underwater landscapes. Moreover, it can change color to match its surroundings.

16. Seven-Arm Octopus (Haliphron atlanticus)

Fun Fact: Despite what its name indicates, our last type of octopus, the Seven-Arm Octopus, has eight arms like the others. This misnomer results from the males' behavior of curling up one of their arms to hide it, leading observers to count only seven arms.

Female Seven-Arm Octopuses are among the largest creatures in the water. They can grow up to 4 meters long and weigh 75 kg. Moreover, they have a reddish-pink color that distinguishes them underwater.

17. Southern Keeled Octopus (Octopus berrima)

Fun fact: Did you know the Southern Keeled Octopus can change the texture of their skin to imitate their surroundings?

This aquatic chameleon, also known as Octopus berrima, is native to Australian waters. Primarily nocturnal hunters, these creatures scavenge the ocean floor using their advanced sensory tentacles to locate their prey, making them unique in their hunting methods.

18. Atlantic White Spotted Octopus (Callistoctopus macropus)

Fun Fact: This species is extraordinarily adaptable, capable of changing not just its color, but its texture as well, to blend seamlessly into its surroundings. This master of disguise leaves many marine predators baffled!

The Atlantic White Spotted Octopus making its home in the warm, tropical waters of the Atlantic. When threatened, it releases a cloud of ink that not only confuses its predators but also dulls their sense of smell, making escape easier. After mating, the female will guard her eggs diligently, not leaving even for food until they hatch.

19. Capricorn Octopus (Polvo-do-Mar-Octopus gibbsi)

Fun Fact: The Capricorn octopus is also known as the Octopus gibbsi. Its name not only hints at a celestial connection but also pays tribute to the deep intrigue these creatures inspire.

This species dwells in the mesopelagic zone, which ranges from 200 to 1000 meters below sea level. The shelved and advanced arrangement of its suckers, lined in dual rows, is especially fascinating. Due to their environment's extreme conditions, they've evolved, exhibiting a greater tolerance for both pressure and cold temperatures than most octopuses.

In the stark depths, where the light from above begins to fade, these marine creatures utilize their environment for survival, using the darkness to cloak itself from potential predators.

Conclusion

The diversity among octopuses presents a fascinating study of the types of octopus. We have species like the Southern Keeled Octopus, using unique survival tactics such as shape-shifting, or the distinctive nocturnal hunting methods most octopus species employ.

These highly intelligent creatures demonstrate the variety, adaptability and the remarkable intricacies of marine life. As we continue to understand these creatures, we further unravel the complexity of octopuses in all their forms.

1

Williams, B. L., Stark, M. R., & Caldwell, R. L. (2012). Microdistribution of tetrodotoxin in two species of blue-ringed octopuses (Hapalochlaena lunulata and Hapalochlaena fasciata) detected by fluorescent immunolabeling. Toxicon, 60(7), 1307-1313. 

2

Huffard, Christine L. (2007). Ethogram of Abdopus Aculeatus (d'Orbigny, 1834) (Cephalopoda: Octopodidae): Can Behavioural Characters Inform Octopodid Taxonomy and Systematics?. Journal of Molluscan Studies. 73 (2): 93–185.

3

Huffard, C. L., Saarman, N., Hamilton, H., & Simison, W. B. (2010). The evolution of conspicuous facultative mimicry in octopuses: an example of secondary adaptation? Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 101(1), 68-77.

4

 Caldwell, R. L., Ross, R., Rodaniche, A., & Huffard, C. L. (2015). Behavior and body patterns of the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus. PloS one, 10(8), e0134152. 

By Mike Gomez, BA.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Chinny Verana, BSc.

Photo by Mohamed Ahsan on Unsplash
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