Imagine that youíre on a cruise to the Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Your family decides to head back to your cabin to get ready for bed. You decide to stay out on the deck, so you can take one last look at the ocean.
At first, you think you see something move in the distance. Your heart begins to quiver. You see the same movement from the water that you saw before. Suddenly, you see a puffy black cloud of ink. You try to figure out what it could be. The unknown creature comes closer to the surface of the water. You get a better look at whatever the creature is, and you realize that itís an Ö OCTOPUS!!
Now, you have some questions that you want to find out. You decide to do some research about octopi. During your investigation, this is the information that you find.
There are a little over 60 different kinds of octopi, however, they all share the same characteristics. They all have eight long legs, with tiny suction cups on each one. They all change color depending on how they are feeling. These are the main characteristics you will see when you look at an octopus.
The suction cups on their legs serve a useful purpose. They are used to walk on the ocean floor, and to grip onto vertical walls. They also help octopi to hold down their prey when they are trying to eat it.
Like some animals on land, octopi can change color. Changing colors is useful for self-defense because they become almost invisible to a predator. The animal will no longer be able to see the octopus because it will blend in with its surroundings or camouflage.
Octopi change color according to their surroundings. If an octopus is crawling along the sandy bottom of the ocean floor, they may turn a brown color. They also change color according to how they are feeling. When they are scared, they turn white. If they are mad, they will turn red.
Octopi have soft bodies and no bones. This makes them a type of animal called an invertebrate. This is why they can squeeze through tight spaces. An octopus can make its body very small and compact or wide and spread out. This quality helps all octopi because they can hide from predators in places they wouldnít think to look in.
The smallest octopus in the world is smaller than a penny. The average size of an octopus is just a little bigger than a manís fist. Sizes also may vary from 3 inches to 36 feet. That is a big difference!
Harmful or Not?
The appearance of an octopus can make it look harmful. They are actually very kind and gentle creatures. Some people call octopi devilfish because of the way they look. People think that octopi attack people whenever they want to. This is not true. Octopi only attack when they feel threatened.
There is plenty of food in the sea for octopi. They like to eat crabs, lobsters, shrimp, clams, oysters, and other fish. Octopi eat through their mouth that is placed in the center of all their tentacles.
Sometimes, to kill prey, octopi must pressure a certain spot on an animalís body to paralyze the animal. It is easier to eat their food when the animal will hold still.
Building A Home
Octopi find homes very easily. If there are no rocks to crawl under, an octopus will be very resourceful and build a home. An octopus will use old bottles and scrap pieces of metal, found at the bottom of the ocean instead. An octopus will mound all kinds of things together to create a home.
An octopus will only stay in a "house" for about two days, and then it will set off to hunt for food. It will most likely never return to the home. From there, the octopus will make a new house.
The houses that octopi make protect them from their enemies. Some of these enemiesí are morays, grouper fish, and conger eels. If an octopus spots one of these animals, it will move from its home and find another. This is not really a problem to octopi because they travel so often. People are not a big harm to octopi.
People who study octopi and other ocean life say that octopi normally live to the ages of 15-20 years. However, some species have a shorter life span. The age of an octopus also depends on the breed. If an octopus is very big and hardy, it is likely to live longer than one that is small and weak.
Now that you found out everything that you wanted to know, you decide to take a SCUBA diving trip in the ocean to see if you can find any more octopi. When youíre searching the sea, all you come across is a deserted underwater clearing, with only a few rocks, seaweed, and fish. You see an interesting looking rock and decide to take a closer look. The rock appears to be emerald green, with shapes that look like scales. Suddenly, it started to move. You become scared and try to think about what just happened. Finally you remember what it could be, itís a Ö(J Find out in Paulinaís reportJ )
Conklin, Gladys. The Octopus and Other Cephalopods. New York: Holiday House, 1977.