A new study demonstrates that the blue oxygen carrying haemocyanin pigment in the blood of an Antarctic octopus (Pareledone charcoti) protect the animals from freezing temperatures. In fact, when compared to other octopus species from warmer climates, they have up to 40% more haemocyanin. Dr. Michael Oellermann, lead study author from Alfred-Wegener-Institute, provided the following quote for a press release: “This is the first study providing clear evidence that the octopods’ blue blood pigment, haemocyanin, undergoes functional changes to improve the supply of oxygen to tissue at sub-zero temperatures.”
Moreover, unlike other octopus species, the study findings demonstrated better oxygen carrying capacity at higher temperatures, a feature that may help the animals cope with changing climates.
M Oellermann, B Lieb, HO Pörtner, JM Semmens and FC Mark. Blue blood on ice: modulated blood oxygen transport facilitates cold compensation and eurythermy in an Antarctic octopod. Frontiers in Zoology. 12:6, 2015.