Animal Species:Poison Ocellate Octopus - Octopus mototi

Both the common and scientific names for this octopus come from Rapa Island in the South Pacific, where the species is referred to as ‘fe’e mototi’, or ‘poison octopus’.

Alternative Name/s

Poison Ocellate Octopus

Identification

Normally Octopus mototi are drab orange-cream-brown in colour with black papillae over each eye. When alarmed they may change colour dramatically to maroon stripes over a white background along the body and arms. A pair of iridescent blue rings act as false-eye spots to scare off potential predators.

Size range

A large octopus with an armspan of up to 50cm.

Distribution

This octopus has a wide distribution through tropical waters from Okinawa, Japan to Australia and throughout the South Pacific.

Distribution by collection data

Biomaps map of Octopus mototi specimens in the Australian Museum collection.

What does this mean?

Habitat

Octopus mototi occurs on coral reefs, coral rubble and sand habitats from shallow waters to at least 50m deep.

Feeding and Diet

Appears to feed primarily on shellfish and hermit crabs, both for which it drills through the shell, injecting a paralytic saliva before extracting the paralysed prey.

Other behaviours and adaptations

The female lays small eggs in long branching strings. The young are thought to be planktonic, accounting for its wide distribution throughout the South Pacific.

Classification

Species:
mototi
Genus:
Octopus
Family:
Octopodidae
Order:
Octopoda
Subclass:
Coleoidea
Class:
Cephalopoda
Phylum:
Mollusca

What does this mean?

References

Norman, M., (2000) Cephalopods- A World Guide, ConchBooks, Germany (Hackenheim)

Norman, M & A. Reid., (2000) A Guide to Squid, Cuttlefish and Octopuses of Australasia, CSIRO Publishing, Victoria (Collingwood)
 


Allison Runck
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