COMMON OCTOPUS – Flora and Fauna of Fuerteventura
An Article By Hannah Mackay with The Voice
With the World Cup looming this month we thought it fitting to include Paul the Octopus who gained worldwide attention during the 2010 World Cup as the Animal Oracle, by predicting the results of the matches. Paul proved to be extremely accurate and correctly predicted a win for Spain against the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup Final. This special octopus known as Paul, started his life in a Sea-life centre in Weymouth in the UK. After hatching he was then moved to another Sea-life centre in Germany. Sadly, Paul died in the October of 2010, but he lived a very normal, although famous, two and half years, so what better time to focus on some Octo Facts.
The Octopus is so much more than an eight legged Cephalopods. There are over 300 species identified in our oceans, but common to the Canary Islands is the Common Octopus.
The Common Octopus
Along with many other species the common octopus can change their colour and skin tonnes to blend in with their surroundings, making them masters of disguise. This aids them in catching their pray by allowing them to hide in plain sight – and pounce. They feed by initially capturing their prey with their tentacles, and then drawing it into their mouth. The digestive juices in the saliva help to separate the flesh from the bone and allow them to take bites easily. The salivary gland also has a small tooth at its end which can be poked into a shell, allowing them to almost suck and digest the prey from inside. Generally they hunt at dusk and will eat almost anything they can catch, but their preferred menu is crustaceans and molluscs.
Octopuses are highly territorial and like the floor of shallow, rocky coastal waters. They can change shape allowing them to squeeze into tiny spaces and hide, allowing only a minimal amount of their body to be exposed to the external waters. They are highly intelligent and have complex thought processes, long and short-term memories and different personalities. Studies have also shown that the common octopus can distinguish the brightness, size, shape, and horizontal or vertical orientation of objects. They have also learnt to use tools and can open a jar or raid a lobster pot. Although they are very sensitive to pain, they have the ability to escape a predator by losing an arm and then re-growing it later!
STRANGE BUT TRUE
- The Octopus has blue blood and three hearts. Two hearts move the blood past the gills and the third moves the blood to their organs.
- When they swim their hearts stop beating. Generally they crawl, rather than swimming quickly.
- When scared, an Octopus releases ink. This dulls the predator’s sense of smell and blocks their sight, allowing for a safe getaway.
- Octopus have teeth. In fact, they have curved teeth like a parrot’s beak and also have venomous saliva.
- The female Octopus lays up to 500,000 eggs. She lays them in shallow water and then guards the eggs until they hatch. The female then stops eating after laying the eggs, and dies shorty after they hatch.
TOP TIP FOR OCTOPUS SPOTTING – Lookout for cracks and holes with rocks and shells piled up in front. If you look a little harder I’m sure you will spot the tell take signs of the suckers on an Octopus tentacle tucked up inside.