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5 Interesting Facts About The Dumbo Octopus

The Dumbo octopus is one of the world’s cutest sea creatures – they look more like an umbrella or hat than they do more common types of octopus (due to having webbed tentacles) and have big soulful eyes.

Named after Disney’s Dumbo, a little elephant famous for his big ears, the Dumbo octopus is named so because it has ear-like fins on its head that propel it through the water. Besides the 15 different species of Dumbo octopus, no other octopus known in the ocean shares this fascinating feature.

Ready to learn more about these cute little creatures? Here are 5 interesting things that make Dumbo octopuses so extraordinary.

1. They Are The Deepest Known Octopus

Dumbo octopuses live at depths of around 13,000 feet below the surface (about 4,000 meters). They live in the ocean around California, Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, the Phillipines, in the Gulf of Mexico, and off the coast of Oregon.

The temperature where they live is cool, and their soft, jelly-like bodies are well adapted to living in a high-pressure environment.

Photo Credit: NOAA

2. They Don’t Have an Ink Sack

Most octopuses have an ink sack they can release when threatened to help them get away from predators. Dumbo octopuses don’t have an ink sack, however, because they live at such depths that there aren’t many predators around that will eat them. Their main predators are sharks and dolphins, which don’t often dive to the depths they live at.

While they may look small in pictures, they can grow up to 6 feet long (1.8m) and weigh up to 13 pounds (6kg).

Photo Credit: MBARI

3. They Don’t Live Very Long

Dumbo octopuses can lay up to a whopping 200,000 eggs at a time – and scientists believe they can do this at any time once they reach sexual maturity. Like so many other creatures that produce a lot of offspring, this is because Dumbo octopuses have a relatively short lifespan. They will only live for 3-5 years. The female Dumbo octopus, once she has found a mate, will find a suitable rocky area or reef to lay her eggs and then waits there until the babies hatch.

4. Despite Their Big Eyes, They Don’t See Well

Remember their big eyes? Their eyes are actually about a third of the width of their entire head, giving them a cartoon-like appearance. However, despite the size of their eyes, they don’t have very good eyesight. Since it’s so dark where they live, they mostly feel their way around.

Photo Credit: MBARI

5. They Swallow Prey Whole

Since they don’t have very good eyesight, it’s so dark, and there aren’t all that many creatures that want to live at the same depths they do, Dumbo octopuses will suck up and eat their prey in one gulp. They largely feed on Copepods, amphipods, isopods, and bristle worms, all of which look like insects.

Unlike many other octopuses, Dumbo octopuses do not have a radula, which is a hard, tooth-covered tongue behind the beak that most octopuses use to “chew” their food. A Dumbo octopus’s prey goes straight to their stomach.

Photo Credit: NOAA Ocean Exploration & Research

Dumbo octopuses also share many other fascinating characteristics with other species of octopus, such as:

  • Being found in a wide range of colors and being able to change the color of their skin at will to camouflage themselves against the ocean floor
  • They can “shrink” to change shape and fit into small spaces
  • They have 3 hearts and blue blood – 2 hearts for pumping blood around its body and one to its gills
  • They have 9 brains that all work together as one – each leg has its own “mini-brain” that allows it to move independently of the other legs

So there you have it, 5 (plus!) interesting facts you now know about Dumbo octopuses.

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