Friday Cephalopod: on the rocks

Octopus vulgaris

Figure from Cephalopods: A World Guide (amzn/b&n/abe/pwll), by Mark Norman.


  1. #1 Dianne
    March 31, 2006

    I’ve been reading this blog too much. My first response to this picture was “aawww…how cute!”

  2. #2 Emma
    March 31, 2006

    Is the grayish blue in the (skin between the tentacles, which I don’t know the name of) normal or a function of being…gulp…no longer among the living?

  3. #3 HP - not that one
    March 31, 2006

    “That is not dead which can eternal lie,
    And with strange aeons even death may die.”

  4. #4 Ithika
    March 31, 2006

    Emma, you’ve not been paying attention! Celaphopods were never among the living. 🙂

  5. #5 BruceH
    March 31, 2006

    While I can’t state conclusively that the octopus is alive (not being a marine biologist,) I can say that the bluish tinge to its tentacles do not imply anything much about its health. For one thing, octopi (or is it octopuses?) can change the color of the skin. For another, underwater photography can be very tricky. The first color to filter out at any depth is red, followed by yellow. It may be that the true color is uniform, but the camera’s flash failed to fully illuminate the subject.

  6. #6 strait talk
    March 31, 2006

    I’m with Dianne. What a beauty!

  7. #7 P J Evans
    March 31, 2006

    It blends very nicely with the rocks. (Yeah, it’s cute!)

  8. #8 Jan Andrea
    March 31, 2006

    We <3 cuddly octopi:

  9. #9 Jan Andrea
    March 31, 2006

    Well, that didn’t work! I used a less-than sign and a 3 to indicate a heart, but it tried to format it.

    Anyway. We love cuddly octopi:

  10. #10 Jan Andrea
    March 31, 2006

    Argh. There was supposed to be a picture there. Here’s a clicky link instead:

  11. #11 jason
    March 31, 2006

    Hi Laura!

  12. #12 Clinton Bauder
    March 31, 2006

    This is an octopus I found out in the open on a night dive in Bonaire a few years ago:

    Caribbean Reef Octopus QuickTime 9.8MB

    Octopi are about as cool as it gets as far as I’m concerned.

  13. #13 isabelita
    March 31, 2006

    It’s gorgeous. It reminds me of Gustav Klimpt’s paintings, only even more beautiful, infused with glittery light.

  14. #14 wswilso
    March 31, 2006

    There’s an interesting article in the local weekly (Metro Silicon Valley) about the spread of the Humboldt Squid north along the N. California coast in the last several years. A PDF including the article is at

  15. #15 ChetBob
    March 31, 2006

    That is a classy looking ‘pus.

  16. #16 Pamela
    March 31, 2006

    Best cephalapod I’ve seen here yet. Gorgeous!

  17. #17 Loris
    March 31, 2006

    Great cephalopod!

    Anyone catch Stephen Colbert last night? He said Soledad O’Brian couled be part cephalopod! Made me think fondly of the Friday cephalopod I’d see today.

  18. #18 Efogoto
    March 31, 2006

    That Caribbean reef octopus video is fabulous Clinton. Thanks for sharing.

  19. #19 toby
    March 31, 2006

    excuse my ignorance, but my first thought was- how is the octopus surviving on a rock, out of the water, but other people have now suggested that it is perhaps dead, or the photo was taken underwater.

    so I was wondering if PZ could give a few more specifics about this photo, and also generally, do cepholopods ever spend time out of the water, on rocks and suchlike, or is that a silly think to wonder?

  20. #20 RavenT
    March 31, 2006

    Toby, they can stay outside of water for a little while. My friend who used to volunteer at an aquarium in California told me about a mystery there–lobsters were disappearing out of their tank overnight with no sign of what was happening to them. The staff set up a camera in the room to find out what was happening, and found an octopus across the room was raising the lid on its own tank, scuttling across the floor, reaching into the lobster tank and having a treat, then scuttling back across the floor and climbing back into its own tank.

    My favorite part of the story, though, was that, after it was back in its own tank, it was pulling its own lid back down! Maybe it just remembered that as part of the process, or maybe–I like to think, anyway–it was throwing anyone who came in the next morning off its track. Pretty intelligent, either way.

  21. #21 Clinton Bauder
    March 31, 2006


    Having seen a lot of octopi underwater I’m quite confident saying that the octopus in question is alive and in the water. Most likely the camera was underwater too though I suppose it’s possible the animal was in a tank or shallow pool.

    Some octopi do occasionally wander out onto land. I think at least one major aquarium had trouble with one that went wandering around at night from tank to tank sampling the delicacies in the other exhibits.

  22. #22 PZ Myers
    March 31, 2006

    Yep, alive and in the water.

  23. #23 speedwell
    April 1, 2006

    I just found a BLOG all about SQUID!! This is not an April Fool’s joke. I can tell you how I found it but it would be embarrassing… since the site where I found the link is all full of puppies and kitties and cute stuff… Heh. It’s at

  24. #24 speedwell
    April 1, 2006

    OK, well, you already knew about that one. Or they knew about you. Back to the drawing board. 🙂

  25. #25 toby
    April 3, 2006

    thanks for the responses to my questions. that story about the octopus and the lobsters is awesome!

  26. #26 Jimmy
    July 11, 2007

    its octopusses not octopi,
    yes hes under water,
    its at night cause octopusses hunt at night hence the bad lighting

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