Invertebrate Spotlight: The East Pacific Red Octopus

By Catherine Drake, Invertebrate Zoology Lab

The Marine Ecology class recently boarded the our research vessel the Point Sur for a trawling expedition. The plan for this field trip was to run three—one mid-water and two benthic—trawls. The benthic zone is the lowest level in the ocean and includes the seafloor, which is a habitat that has a lot of biodiversity. So, it was expected that the nets would bring up many intriguing organisms, and they did not disappoint! The most prevalent invertebrates we captured were urchins, specifically red and heart urchins, but I want to focus on the slightly bigger invertebrates that caught my eye: three octopi!

Two east Pacific red octopi in adjacent tanks.

Octopi are incredibly intelligent and have highly developed nervous systems with 500 million neurons, which to put in perspective is in the same level as cats and dogs.  Although we are unsure what species of octopus we captured, we believe that these amazing cephalopods are most likely east Pacific red octopi.  The east Pacific red octopus, Octopus rubescens, is a small octopus ranging from 40 to 50 cm in length, and researchers who study this invertebrate say that it can easily solve puzzles and has an incredible memory.  So, after the Point Sur docked, we immediately took the octopi to our aquarium room to place them in their own tanks, which we filled with toys for them!

An east Pacific red octopus adjusting do his new home.

This octopus has iridescent coloring.

This entry was posted in Catherine Drake, Cool Creatures, Research: Fresh from the Field, Tales from the Classroom and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Invertebrate Spotlight: The East Pacific Red Octopus

  1. Danna Staaf says:

    Gorgeous! They do indeed look like O. rubescens. Thanks for sharing! But my combined love for language and octopodes compels me to point out that “octopi” is really not the best plural:


  2. Pingback: Trawling for Booty in the Briny Sea « The Drop-In to Moss Landing Marine Labs

  3. Tom Drake says:

    Such intelligent mollusks!


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