|More Ocean Resources
To believe in the Octopus, one must have seen it. Victor Hugo, The Combat with the Octopus (1888)
Members of the order Octopoda, better known as octopuses or octopi, have fascinated sea goers throughout the ages.
Their nickname devil fish, reflected in the quote from the Victor Hugo story, suggests that over the course of that time, knowledge of them found its roots more in myth rather than fact.
Current octopi knowledge has not progress much from the years of myth, especially regarding members of the Suborder Cirrata, which consists mostly of deep sea species that possess fins and webbing between the tentacles.suborders and a dozen different families.
Some basic octopus facts start with the fact that approximately one hundred and fifty different species, most of which inhabit the sandy bottoms of warm water habitats, have thus far been documented.
They range in size from a couple of inches to thirty feet in length. A few species are poisonous.
Additionally, most share some common physical characteristics, including eight tentacles or arms (many species having webbing between the arms) along with the lack of a hard shell normally associated with members of the mollusk phylum.
Octopi species are predators that typically use their tentacled armed to capture and hold their prey, often crustaceans in their territory.
To avoid being prey, octopi can change their body color to mimic their surroundings. When they are not hunting, they are normally hiding between rocks, rather than trying to chase and grab human swimmers.
Exploring the rocky tide pools during low tide is a great way to potentially spot an octopus among the rocks. Remember to look but not touch, because they bite.
© 2009 Patricia A. Michaels