Showing posts tagged as "octopuses"

Is it a Fish? A Snake? A Jelly? Actually, it’s a Mimic Octopus—and We Have One on Exhibit in Tentacles!

Ever wish you could become someone else? The mimic octopus can. In less time than it takes to say “alter ego,” this curious cephalopod can become a venomous lion fish. Or a sea snake. Or a jelly.

“It will mimic these other animals when it’s threatened,” says Aquarist Chris Payne. “To become a snake, for instance, it will display black-and-white bands, extend two arms lengthwise and bury the other arms in the sand.”

In another favorite trick, it outspreads all its tentacles like a big prickly ball, to resemble the spines on a lion fish. Or it expands its mantle to look like a giant jelly. It all says one thing to a potential predator: Stay clear!

We’re one of the few aquariums to display this fascinating species (Thaumoctopus mimicus), which was only discovered in 1998, says Chris. Ours came from Japan, and is almost two feet from tip to tip. Its native habitat is sandy estuaries in the Indo-Pacific region.

Come find it if you can!


Learn more about our Tentacles exhibit

Watch the mimic octopus become four different animals


Our aquarists can get pretty wrapped up in their work! Share YOUR love of cephalopods on Instagram or Twitter and you could win one of eight packs of eight tickets to the Aquarium! #MBATentaclesLearn more 

Our aquarists can get pretty wrapped up in their work! Share YOUR love of cephalopods on Instagram or Twitter and you could win one of eight packs of eight tickets to the Aquarium! #MBATentacles

Learn more 


How do we collect and display amazing deep-sea cephalopods for our Tentacles exhibit? It takes a big boat, a remote-controlled robot, and help from our colleagues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute!

Learn more about the flapjack octopus and the cock-eyed squid.

(Jonathan Wolf photos)

Now that’s moody! Watch this day octopus change color three times in 30 seconds.

Learn more about this amazing animal

Home on the Road: This Octopus Just Loves Life in a Shell

Is this the original RVer? The veined or “coconut” octopus’s home is wherever it puts down its, well, shell. And we’re glad to announce there’s one parked in our Tentacles exhibit right now.

But it’s not just a coconut shell that this cephalopod settles down in. Our Curator of Husbandry Operations, Paul Clarkson, says that the veined octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) will “pick up anything at its disposal” to make a home on the road. This includes old cans, bottles, boots, shells and yes—coconuts. In fact, it’s proud to take up residence in any recently foreclosed property on the ocean floor. It’s all home as far as this cephalopod is concerned.

It could just be the ultimate recycler.

Octopus odyssey

Paul was recently part of a trip to the Philippines,  and his sole goal was to collect this curious cephalopod. The trip was organized by the California Academy of Sciences, which also happens to be the only other aquarium in the U.S. to have displayed them.

The dive site was near an old pier, which—unfortunately for the ocean, but perhaps not so much for the octopus—was rife with trash. He said they would often find the animals closed up in clam shells, with just their eyes poking out, surveying the scene. If spooked, Paul said, the octopus would “just duck down and close up the shell.” To move, it would pick up the shell and just hit the road.

This made life easy for the scientists on the trip. “To collect these octopuses, we would just take the whole house, with the animal inside. It was good for them, and easy for us.” The shell also furnished first-class accommodations on the flight to California.

Paul found that, if he was patient, the octopuses were quite sociable. “If we just sat still, with a crab or other prey, they would come right over and eat out of our hands.”

About the veined octopus

The veined octopus is found in Indo-Pacific waters, has a fist-sized body and lives to be a year old. Common prey items include crustaceans and small fishes.  

You can find it in our Tentacles exhibit, in the spot formerly occupied by the two-spot octopus, which has been moved behind the scenes. Don’t be surprised to find this vagabond displayed with some of the junk that commonly forms its home in the wild.

Watch a veined octopus make a home out of a coconut shell

Learn more about our Tentacles exhibit

Did cephalopods have the original invisibility cloak? Octopuses, squid and cuttlefishes create an amazing array of colors, patterns, textures and shapes for camouflage and communication.

Learn more about our Tentacles exhibit


What does it take to build a 3,700-square-foot exhibit featuring two-dozen species of octopuses, cuttlefish and squid? Just add water, right? Get the insider’s view of how we built Tentacles.

Learn more about the exhibit

Does she look like she means business? Could be! Our aquarists say that the day octopus is strong, clever and more than willing to tear up an exhibit if given the chance. The good news for visitors: they’re great fun to watch, and active during the day! Learn more about the day octopus Learn more about our Tentacles special exhibition(Charlene Boarts)

Does she look like she means business? Could be! Our aquarists say that the day octopus is strong, clever and more than willing to tear up an exhibit if given the chance. The good news for visitors: they’re great fun to watch, and active during the day!

Learn more about the day octopus

Learn more about our Tentacles special exhibition

(Charlene Boarts)

We found Pearl! The flapjack octopus is a rarely observed, deep-sea species, but you may know it better as the inspiration for the animated character Pearl in Finding Nemo. It was collected by our sister organization, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and it’s on exhibit now in our Tentacles special exhibition.

Good trick! Glowing spots deceive predators and prey into thinking that the two-spot octopus has extra eyes. On display in Tentacles!

Learn more

About me

The Monterey Bay Aquarium, perched on the edge of a world-famous coastline, is your window to the wonders of the ocean. It’s located on historic Cannery Row in Monterey and is open daily except Christmas Day.

For more information about our animals and exhibits, and to view our live web cams, please visit www.montereybayaquarium.org.

Hours of operation vary by season. Daily schedules and tickets are available on our website or by calling
(831) 648-4800.