Curious children: what does an octopus eat? For a creature that has a brain in every arm, everything is within reach| Kiowa County Press

Don’t call them tentacles: Octopuses have eight arms. TheSP4N1SH / iStock via Getty Images Plus

Erin Spencer, Florida International University Yannis Papastamatiou, Florida International University

Curious Kids is a series for children of all ages. If you have a question that you’d like an expert to answer, send it to [email protected]


What does an octopus eat? – Lily, 4, Maryland


Octopuses are considered one of the most amazing animals in the sea.

For starters, they are invertebrates. This means that they do not have a backbone like humans, lions, turtles, and birds.

This may seem unusual, but in fact, almost all animals on Earth are invertebrates – about 97%.

Octopuses are a specific type of invertebrate called cephalopods. The name means “head-foot” because the arms of cephalopods surround their heads. Other species of cephalopods include squid, nautiloids, and cuttlefish.

An exciting nature documentary about squid and octopus.

what do they eat?

As marine ecologists, we conduct research on how ocean animals interact with each other and with their environments. We’ve mostly studied fish, from lionfish to sharks, but we have to admit that we’re still fascinated by the octopus.

What octopuses eat depends on their species and where they live. Their prey includes gastropods, such as snails and sea slugs. bivalves, such as clams and mussels; Crustaceans such as lobsters and crabs. and fish.

Octopuses use a lot of methods and tricks to get their food. Some octopuses wrap their arms – not their claws – around prey to draw it close. Some use their hard beak to dig into oyster shells. All octopuses are poisonous. They inject poisons into their prey to overwhelm and kill them.

Watch an octopus hunt its prey – spray ink.

Where do you live?

There are about 300 species of octopus, and they are found in every ocean in the world, even in the frigid waters around Antarctica. A special substance in their blood helps those species that live in cold waters to get oxygen. It also turns their blood blue.

You can find octopuses at different depths as well. Some are found in warm tropical reefs just a few feet from the surface of the water. Others live in the depths of the sea, practically in the dark. The species that delves deeper is the dumbo octopus, which has been spotted at an altitude of 22,800 feet – more than 4 miles (about 7 kilometers).

How smart are they?

Octopuses on top of the class. They are among the smartest invertebrates on Earth. They have nine brains – a small brain in each arm and another in the center of their bodies. Each arm can independently taste, touch, and perform basic movements, but all arms can also work together when the central brain orders them.

Octopuses make use of their brains. They can solve mazes and puzzles, especially when food is the reward. Sometimes they outsmart smart people: At the New Zealand National Aquarium, Enki figured out how to slip out of his tank and escape into the ocean via a drainpipe.

Watch an octopus earn its meal by solving a puzzle.

How do they change color?

Octopuses are experts at disguise so they can blend in with their surroundings. One way they do this is by changing the color. Special cells, called chromatophores, receive a signal from the brain to tighten muscles to show more color, or relax them to show less. Blue, green, pink, gray – they switch those colors and more to hide from predators, attract friends, attract prey, and warn enemies to stay away.

Some species also change the texture of their skin, making it softer or bumpy, so they can camouflage themselves in rocks and foliage. some spray of ink when encountering predators such as sharks; This allows the octopus enough time to swim to safety.

Mimic octopuses are especially smart. It moves its arms in certain ways to mimic other ocean animals. For example, if he wanted to appear fierce, he would extend his arms widely striped in black and white to look like a poisonous sea snake. Or it flattens out along the sea floor, its arm next to its body, to look like a poisonous flatfish.

Mimic octopus can mimic the appearance of other sea creatures.

Octopus in danger

When confronted with humans, octopuses tend to be non-aggressive—as long as you give them space, as you would any surrounding animal.

Although octopuses have ways of avoiding predators, they remain vulnerable to other threats: chemical pollutants, marine debris, habitat loss, overfishing, and climate change.

But we as human beings can all help by making smart ocean choices. This includes learning how to reduce carbon emissions and use less plastic. Doing these things will help the octopus and other sea creatures not only survive, but thrive.

Here are ways you can keep our oceans clean.


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Erin Spencer, Ph.D. biology student, Florida International University Yannis Papastamatiou, Professor of Biological Sciences, Florida International University

This article has been republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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