Types Of Octopuses – Explanation & Visual Guide

There are 15 main types of octopuses. These include species like the blue-ringed octopus, dumbo octopus, blanket octopus, and giant octopuses.

Each of the different types of octopus can be placed into two categories, finless, shallow water, and finned, deep water.

  • Finless, Shallow-Water Octopus:

One of the main types of octopus is the finless, shallow-water octopus. These kinds of octopus live around coral reefs and, of course, where the waters are shallow.

  • Finned, Deep-Water Octopus:

These species of octopus, the finned, deep-water octopus, live in deeper waters, sometimes miles under the ocean.

Main Types of Octopus

Blanket Octopus

A blanket octopus

Blanket octopuses are so named because of the transparent webs that connect the dorsal and dorsolateral arms. Females can be more than six feet long, while the males are about the size of a walnut.

  • Scientific name: Tremoctopus
  • Rank: Genus
  • Higher classification: Tremoctopodidae
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Order: Octopus
  • Kingdom: Animalia

Atlantic Pygmy Octopus

Atlantic Pygmy Octopus on a piece of rock, sand, and shells.

These are the smallest species of octopus discovered so far by scientists. They weigh just over 1 ounce when fully grown.

  • Scientific name: Octopus joubini
  • Rank: Species
  • Higher classification: Smoothskin octopus
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Class: Cephalopoda
  • Order: Octopoda

Blue-Ringed Octopus

A blue ringed octopus flashing its bright blue rings as a warning sign.
Blue-ringed octopus

The blue-ringed octopus is a poisonous species of octopus that generally lives in tide pools and coral reefs in the Pacific and Indian oceans. Their range extends from Japan to Australia.

These octopus types are poisonous. A single blue-ringed octopus bite delivers a venomous neurotoxin 1000 times more powerful than cyanide.

That means that, though the blue-ringed octopus is only the size of a golf ball, it still carries enough poison to kill 26 humans in minutes.

  • Scientific name: Hapalochlaena
  • Class: Cephalopoda
  • Order: Octopoda
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Rank: Genus

Argonaut

Argonaut

The paper nautilus or Argonaut is usually found near the surface of tropical and subtropical seas. They feed mostly on plankton. These types of octopus are some of the few that have external shells.

California Two-Spot Octopus

Close up of a California two-spot octopus in the hand of a person.

The California two-spot octopus has two circular blue eyespots on each side of its head. It typically lives in many parts of the Pacific Ocean and are common in California. Thus, the name.

California Two-spot Octopus eggs on a rock at low tide.
California Two-spot Octopus eggs on a rock at low tide.

The typical lifespan of the California two-spot octopus is about one or two years.  Once a female lays her eggs she dies soon after they hatch.

Fun fact, the first octopus to have its genome sequenced was a California two-spot octopus.

Caribbean Reef Octopus

Caribbean Reef Octopus camouflages itself among coral reefs.
Caribbean Reef Octopus in camouflage.

Caribbean reef octopuses are coral marine animals. They have 8 long arms each of which varies in length. Their mantles can be up to 60 cm long and are usually large and chunky.

This species of octopus is difficult to describe because it changes color and texture to blend into its surroundings, using specialized skin cells known as chromatophores.

Its color range is very large; it can change from crimson to green, and can even change its texture from bumpy to smooth. It weighs around 3.3 lb or 1.5 kg.

Octopus briareus is one of the if not, the most intelligent of all invertebrates. It’s as smart as some types of mammals.

Cirrina

Cirrina or Cirrata have two small fins on their head and are only found in deep waters. They have a small internal shell and their suckers have “cirri” filaments. These fragments are believed to help octopus trap food.

Incirrata

Incirrata

Incirrata (or Incirrina) do not have an internal shell like their cousins (cirrata). Nor do they have cirri on their suckers or fins on their head.

Common Octopus

Common Octopus comes out of a hole on the ocean floor.
Common Octopus comes out of a hole on the ocean floor.

Octopus Vulgaris or the common octopus is the most studied octopus species in existence.

Its appearance is unique because of its huge bulbous head, large eyes, and 8 peculiar tentacles. The common octopus grows up to 4.3 feet in length and can weigh up to 22 pounds.

Training experiments show that the common octopus can distinguish the brightness, size, shape, and horizontal or vertical orientation of objects.

East Pacific Red Octopus

East Pacific Red Octopus (Octopus rubescens) attaches itself to a log on the ocean floor.
East Pacific Red Octopus (Octopus rubescens)

The East Pacific red octopus is also known as the ruby octopus. The scientific name is octopus rubescens. These octopuses live in shallow-waters along the North American west coast.

In 2012, a tiny juvenile East Pacific red octopus made its way into the Monterey Bay Aquarium on a sponge, and hid in one of the exhibits for a year before being discovered walking across the Aquarium’s floor in the middle of the night.

Mimic Octopus

A mimic octopus, one of the many different types of octopus.
Mimic Octopus.

The mimic octopus is a species of octopus that has the ability to impersonate other local species of octopus.

They are known also known to mimic other animals (eel, starfish, jellyfish, and stingrays) in order to avoid detection by predators.

The mimic octopus was first discovered off the coast of Sulawesi, Indonesia by a group of scientists in 1998 on the bottom of a muddy river.

Megaleledonidae

Not much is known about Megaleledonidae. They are small species of octopuses rarely seen.

Giant Octopuses

Giant Pacific octopus species extending its tentacles.
Giant Pacific Octopus

The giant Pacific octopus is the largest of the different kinds of octopuses. It also lives longer than any other octopus species.

The largest giant octopus recorded is held by a specimen that was 30 feet across and weighed more than 600 pounds.

Giant Pacific octopuses are fished for off of the coasts of North America and Japan.

Seven-Arm Octopus

Rare photo of the seven arm octopus.
Seven arm octopus.

Male seven-armed octopuses lack a tentacle because, the hectocotylus, the modified arm, is used for egg fertilization. It is coiled within a sac beneath the right eye of the octopus.

The seven-armed octopus, Haliphron atlanticus, has only been observed by MBARI’s remotely operated vehicles three times in 27 years.

Dumbo Octopus

Rare photo of a dumbo octopus.
Dumbo Octopus

The dumbo octopus gets its name due to its resemblance to the Disney character from the film Dumbo. Their fins resemble large ears and extend from the mantle of the octopus above each eye.

Though they spend much of their lives suspended above the seafloor, dumbo octopuses lay their eggs on the bottom of the seafloor, attached to rocks or other hard surfaces.

Facts About Octopuses

  • Octopuses do not live very long. Male octopuses die shortly after mating while females die shortly after the eggs hatch.
  • Octopuses move in three ways: by walking across the ocean floor, by swimming using its tentacles, and by squirting water from a cavity to propel itself forward.
  • Octopuses have three hearts. One heart pumps blood throughout the entire body of the octopus while the other two pump blood to the gills.
  • Octopuses have blue blood.

References

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