Types Of Octopus – Explanation & Visual Guide

Have you ever wondered what are the types of octopus out there? Well, there are two main types and then there are over 300 sub-species that make up each type.

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.

Octopus are highly intelligent invertebrates that eat other animals to survive. Here are the different different types of octopus and some fun facts.

Atlantic Pygmy Octopus

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

The Atlantic pygmy octopus (Octopus joubini), also known as the small-egg Caribbean pygmy octopus, is a small octopus species in the order Octopoda. Fully grown, this cephalopod reaches a mantle length of 4.5 centimeters (1.8 in) with arms up to 9 centimeters (3.5 in) long.

Atlantic pygmy octopus – Wikipedia
An Atlantic pygmy octopus uses its tentacle to feel the finger of a person.

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

Blue-ringed octopuses, comprising the genus Hapalochlaena, are four highly venomous species of octopus that are found in tide pools and coral reefs in the Pacific and Indian oceans, from Japan to Australia.

Blue-ringed octopus – Wikipedia
A greater blue ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata) flashing its bright blue color ring shaped markings on its body.

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

California Two-Spot Octopus

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

The California two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculoides), often simply called a “bimac”, is an octopus species native to many parts of the Pacific Ocean including the coast of California. One can identify the species by the circular blue eyespots on each side of its head.

California two-spot octopus – Wikipedia
Video of California two spot octopus, off Catalina Island Los Angeles.
California Two-spot Octopus eggs on a rock at low tide.
California Two-spot Octopus eggs on a rock at low tide.
California Two-spot Octopus (Octopus bimaculoides) eggs hatching at low tide.

California two-spot octopuses typically live about one or two years.  Once a female lays her eggs she will die soon after they hatch.

  • Scientific name: Octopus bimaculoides
  • Rank: Species
  • Higher classification: Smoothskin octopus
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Class: Cephalopoda

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.

The Caribbean reef octopus (Octopus briareus) is a coral reef marine animal. It has eight long arms that vary in length and diameter. The mantle is large and chunky in comparison (up to 60 cm long).

Caribbean reef octopus – Wikipedia
Caribbean Reef Octopus squirting ink.
Caribbean Reef Octopus moving over coral while changing its color to blend in.

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 bumpy to smooth. It weighs around 3.3 lb or 1.5 kg.

  • Scientific name: Octopus briareus
  • Rank: Species
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Higher classification: Smoothskin octopus
  • Kingdom: Animalia

Did you know: Octopus briareus is one of the, if not, the most intelligent of all invertebrate. It’s as smart as some types of mammals. muohio.edu

Common Octopus

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

The common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) is a mollusc belonging to the class Cephalopoda. Octopusvulgaris is the most studied of all octopus species.

Common octopus – Wikipedia
Common octopus coming out of a hole in the sand on the ocean floor.

The common octopus has a rather unique appearance. It has a massive bulbous head, large eyes, and eight distinctive arms. They can grow to about 4.3 feet in length and weigh up to 22 pounds.

  • Family: Octopodidae
  • Scientific name: Octopus vulgaris
  • Class: Cephalopoda
  • Order: Octopoda
  • Phylum: Mollusca

Did you know: Training experiments have shown 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)

Octopus rubescens (Commonly the East Pacific red octopus, also known as the ruby octopus, a preferred common name due to the abundance of octopus species colloquially known as red octopus) is the most commonly occurring shallow-water octopus on much of the North American West Coast.

East Pacific red octopus – Wikipedia
Woman holding East Pacific Red Octopus (Octopus rubescens) during low tide tide-pooling.

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!

  • Scientific name: Octopus rubescens
  • Family: Octopodidae
  • Rank: Species
  • Higher classification: Smoothskin octopus
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Order: Octopoda

Mimic Octopus

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

The mimic octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) is an Indo-Pacific species of octopus capable of impersonating other local species.

Mimic octopus – Wikipedia
Mimic octopus mating.

Mimic octopuses are known to mimic other animals (eel, starfish, jellyfish, and stingrays) in order to avoid detection by predators. This, to me, makes it the coolest octopus species. These kinds of octopuses are normally brown and white in color.

Indonesian Mimic Octopus
  • Scientific name: Thaumoctopus mimicus
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Class: Cephalopoda
  • Family: Octopodidae
  • Rank: Species

Did you know: 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.

North Pacific Giant Octopus

Giant Pacific octopus species extending its tentacles.
Giant Pacific Octopus

The giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini, formerly also Octopus apollyon), also known as the North Pacific giant octopus, is a large marine cephalopod belonging to the genus Enteroctopus.

Giant Pacific octopus – Wikipedia
An introduction to the giant Pacific octopus.

The giant Pacific octopus grows bigger and lives longer than any other octopus species. The size record is held by a specimen that was 30 feet across and weighed more than 600 pounds.

  • Mass: 33 lbs (Adult)
  • Lifespan: 3 – 5 years (In the wild)
  • Scientific name: Enteroctopus dofleini
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Order: Octopoda

Did you know: Giant Pacific octopuses are fished for off of the coasts of North America and Japan. uwlax.edu

Seven-Arm Octopus

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

The seven-arm octopus is so named because, in males, the hectocotylus (a specially modified arm used in egg fertilization) is coiled in a sac beneath the right eye.

Seven-arm octopus – Wikipedia

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

  • Scientific name: Haliphron atlanticus
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Higher classification: Haliphron
  • Order: Octopus
  • Rank: Species

Dumbo Octopus

Rare photo of a dumbo octopus.
Dumbo Octopus

Grimpoteuthis is a genus of pelagic umbrella octopuses known as the dumbo octopuses. The name “dumbo” originates from their resemblance to the title character of Disney’s 1941 film Dumbo, having a prominent ear-like fin which extends from the mantle above each eye. There are 13 species recognized in the genus.

Grimpoteuthis – Wikipedia
Rare Dumbo Octopus
  • Scientific name: Grimpoteuthis
  • Class: Cephalopoda
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Family: Opisthoteuthidae
  • Kingdom: Animalia

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

Facts About Octopuses

  • Octopus 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.

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