By Linda Qiu
Octopuses can change their appearance at the drop of a hat, stuff themselves into discarded soda cans, and figure out how to unscrew jar lids to get at tasty treats. Although many octopus species shun the limelight, preferring to hide in cracks and crevices instead, today is all about them: It’s International Octopus Day.
To help mark the occasion, here are five of our favorite octopus videos. Watch as these smart invertebrates tangle with formidable ocean predators, squish themselves into tiny tubes, and flush a meal out of a coral reef. (See “Journey of Octopus Discovery Reveals Them to Be Playful, Curious, and Smart.”)
An Octopus Takes Down a Shark
Octopuses can change the color and texture of their skin to match just about any background. This makes them incredible ambush hunters. In this video, a captive octopus snares an unsuspecting shark as it swims over the invertebrate. Hundreds of suction cups line the animal’s eight arms, allowing it to cling to the trashing shark. The suckers are so strong, they can hold up to a hundred times the octopus’ own weight. (See “Why Don’t Octopuses Tie Themselves in Knots?”)
A Great Escape
Since octopuses lack bones, they can contort their bodies to fit into tiny spaces. This makes them excellent escape artists. In this video, a 600-pound (272-kilogram) octopus squeezes itself through a tube the diameter of a quarter. (See “Curious Octopus Floods Aquarium.”)
Fight to the Death
A National Geographic Crittercam strapped to the back of an Australian sea lion captures the gruesome dismantling of an octopus that fights until the bitter end. As the sea lion drags the octopus to the surface, the invertebrate squirts ink in the predator’s face in an attempt to confuse it. But the octopus’ attempt to flee is futile, and the sea lion proceeds to pull it to pieces. (See “‘Bizarre’ Octopuses Carry Coconuts as Instant Shelters.”)
Octopus vs. Octopus
Octopuses aren’t always successful at their camouflaging attempts, especially when another octopus is hunting them. In this video, blood isn’t thicker than water for a white-striped octopus that tries to cannibalize a smaller cousin known as the shaggy octopus. Halfway through the chase on an Australian island, the shaggy octopus employs its unique skill—the ability to run using its arms—to escape. (See “Social Octopus Species Shatters Beliefs About Ocean Dwellers.”)
A Master of Disguise Goes Hunting
When octopuses want to shake up their appearance, all they have to do is expand or shrink the millions of pigment cells on their skin. The invertebrates employ this ability to great effect when hunting. In this video, an octopus covers part of a coral reef with the webbing between its tentacles as it looks for a meal. Suckers on the octopus’ arms transfer the prey to the predator’s mouth, where a parrotlike beak awaits. Bon appetit.