Octopus Seen on North Beach

While walking on North Beach one morning recently, Anne Snelgrove, Jane Magioncalda, and Judy Morr were distracted by an unusual sighting on the beach…a dead octopus. Jane’s pictures show this beautiful animal.  A Google search indicated there are two species of octopus in SC waters…the Common Octopus whose mantle (body) can grow to 25 cm (9.75 inches) with arms up to a meter. The Pigmy Octopus only grows to 4.5 cm (1.8 inches). Since the mantle of “our” Octopus was about 4 inches, it must have been a young Common Octopus.

Some interesting information found about Common Octopus:
– While it was commonly believed that the octopus’s appendages were all arms, recent studies by marine experts have shown that two of the limbs act more like legs, allowing it to walk across the seafloor and push off when swimming. The octopus also has the useful ability to regenerate a tentacle if it loses one.
– It has no skeletal structure but does possess a skull, which protects its brain. Training experiments have shown the Common Octopus can distinguish the brightness, size, shape, and horizontal or vertical orientation of objects. They are intelligent enough to learn how to unscrew a jar and are known to raid lobster traps.
– The Common Octopus hunts at dusk. Crabs and other crustaceans are preferred, although the octopus eats almost anything it can catch. It can change color to blend in with its surroundings and is able to jump upon any unwary prey that strays across its path. Using its beak, it is able to break into the shells of shelled mollusk. It also possesses venom to subdue its prey.
– Octopus dens are usually under a rock or in a crevice, and the animal has even been known to take up residence inside a discarded bottle, a coffee cup, or even an old shoe on the ocean floor.
– In early spring, octopuses move closer to the shore to mate. Two months after mating, the female releases 100,000-500,000 eggs. She spends her time cleaning the eggs, providing oxygen by squirting water, and fending off predators.
– Soon after the eggs hatch, both the male and female octopuses die. They only live 12-18 months. Meanwhile, the hatchlings are carried by the currents, and they feed on plankton for 45-60 days. Only one or two of the hatchlings will survive to adulthood.

When exploring Seabrook Island, you never know what wildlife wonders will be encountered.

Information source used Animal Fact Guide.

-Submitted Judy Morr

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