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8 Awesome Facts for World Octopus Day

Octopus in an aquarium, closeup view

October 8 - is World Octopus Day!

Because... OCTober and 8. Get it? Too clever, just like our many-brained octopus friends! (Seriously, they have more than one brain, read on.)

To celebrate World Octopus Day, we're sharing 8 astonishing facts that show just how awesomely cool these creatures are. 

And just to clarify, octopus and squid are not the same, and neither are octopus and calamari. So go on, order the calamari, we won't be sad.

Before we start, we must tell you to watch the hit documentary My Octopus Teacher on Netflix. It came out in 2020 and is no ordinary nature documentary. Trust us.

It tells the amazing story of filmmaker Craig Foster's unlikely friendship with a wild octopus he met in the massive kelp forests off Cape Town, South Africa and it has all the feels! It's heartwarming, heartbreaking, tender and joyful - and I guarantee you’ll find yourself falling in love with the little cephalopod too by the end!


Now onto the octopus facts:


1. They’re older than dinosaurs

The oldest known octopus fossil has been traced back to an animal that lived almost 300 million years ago! 


2. They’re super smart

Octopuses are the third most intelligent animal on earth, after humans and dolphins, and the most intelligent of all the invertebrates. And it’s not hard to see why. They use tools, carry their shelters around for when they need them, and some species even hunt with weapons. They can learn to navigate mazes and open jars containing tasty crabs. Makes you want to have a pet octopus at home to help in the kitchen doesn't it!? (Skip to about the 50 second mark if you’re impatient to see the amazing feat of an octopus opening a jar in the video below).


3. They have three hearts and blue blood

They almost sound like aliens, don’t they? Two of the hearts pump blood just to their gills, while the third heart sends blood to the rest of their body.

And their blood is blue because it’s contains a copper-rich protein which works better for them since they live in very cold waters with low oxygen.


4. They have nine brains

They have one central brain and then another brain (called a ganglion) at the base of each tentacle to control movement. That's impressive.

 

5. The deadliest is the Blue-ringed Octopus

We live in Australia, so we’re used to small and cute things being deadly. The Blue-ringed Octopus is one of the most deadliest creatures in the world, and can stop your breathing in 30 minutes if you don’t get medical attention.


6. The biggest is the Giant Pacific Octopus

As its name suggests, the Giant Pacific Octopus is the biggest of them and it lives longer than all other octopuses too. The biggest one recorded was 9 metres across and it weighed more than 270 kilograms. 


7. They actually have six arms and two legs

We think of octopuses as having eight tentacles, but scientists studying them discovered they use two tentacles at the back of their body to crawl and walk around, sometimes even pushing off rocks and the seabed with them. They use their remaining tentacles to grab food and propel themselves through the water.


8. They don't have bones

Since they don't have bones, they are excellent escape artists and can squeeze through the smallest of spaces. In fact, they can fit through any hole bigger than their eyes! Just like this one here:

 

Want more ocotpus goodness? Go and check out the Octolab, where you can request an experiment with an octopus to see how they interact with the world, like playing a guitar or escaping a room or watching itself in a mirror. It's mesmerising!

 

Image: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH / Shutterstock