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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Giant Octopus Enteroctopus dofleini

The giant octopus is one of the largest invertebrates as well as one of the most intelligent. It can solve problems, such as negotiating a maze by trial and error, and remember the solution for a long time.

The giant octopus has large, complex eyes with color vision and sensitive suckers that can distinguish between objects by touch alone. It changes color rapidly by contracting or expanding pigmented areas in cells called chromatophores, enabling the giant octopus to remain camouflaged regardless of background.

The giant octopus also uses its color to convey mood, becoming red if annoyed and pale if stressed. Most cephalopods show little parental care, but female giant octopuses guard their eggs for up to eight months until they hatch. They do not eat during that time, and siphon water over the eggs to keep them clean and aerated.

The Giant Octopus's Defense Mechanism

When threatened, a giant octopus squirts a cloud of purple ink out through its siphon into the water and at the same time moves backward rapidly using jet propulsion. Potential predators are left confused and disoriented in a cloud of ink. The giant octopus can repeat this process several times in quick succession.

Giant Octopuszoom image
  • Class Cephalopoda
  • Length Up to 30 ft (9 m)
  • Habitat Bottom dwellers, to 2,500 ft (750 m)
  • Distribution Temperate northwest and northeast Pacific
Giant Octopus Habitat Mapzoom image