So cool, so cool, SO COOL.
While I was diving today, I saw these structures, like large snowflakes drifting out of a crack between two rocks.
And I knew there had to be a Giant Pacific Octopus there BECAUSE this is the skin at the end of the octopus’ suckers.
Octopuses shed this skin periodically and, possibly, from all their suckers at the same time! The skin grows continuously.
With Giant Pacific Octopuses having about 2,000 suckers (up to ~2,240 in females and 2,140 in males), you can imagine how many of these were drifting out of its den as the octopus exhaled, causing an upward current.
This skin is referenced as the sucker lining or “chitinous cuticle” and you can deduce from the photo below how the skin being shed would be of varying sizes.
I could peer into the crack and see the octopus that was shedding but s/he was too deep into the den to be able to get a photo.
How wonderful it would be to be able to provide you video of an octopus shedding its suckers in the wild. But, not surprising, it is easier to capture this with octopuses in captivity.
Below is a video of a captive Giant Pacific Octopus named Marylyn shedding her sucker linings (Video source: Christie Rajcic, “Octopus Shedding Suckers”).
I hope this adds to your sense of wonder of our marine neighbours. It also provides a whole new association to the words “So long suckers!” 😉
It’s difficult to explain the joy it gives to not have disregarded these little white bits but to know they were a clue to where there was an octopus.
Oh, and if you enjoyed this, you definitely will want to benefit from my life-enhancing blog “How Octopuses Poo“.
For you super nerds (hello!), the cuticle covers the “infundibulum”. See images below from “A Snail’s Odyssey“.
- Packard, A. 1988. The skin of cephalopods (Coleoids): General and special adaptations. In E. R. Trueman and M. R. Clarke (eds.), The Mollusca, form and function, 11, pp. 37–67. Academic Press, Inc., San Diego.
- A Snail’s Odyssey, Learn About Octopuses & Relatives: Locomotion
- William M. Kier, Andrew M. Smith, The Structure and Adhesive Mechanism of Octopus Suckers, Integrative and Comparative Biology, Volume 42, Issue 6, December 2002, Pages 1146–1153, https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/42.6.1146
- Youtube video: Christie Rajcic, “Octopus Shedding Suckers“