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Octopus mototi

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Octopus mototi is a small poisonous octopus most commonly found in Rapa (French Polynesia). Octopus mototi has also been observed in scattered locations in Australia and Indonesia up to Okinawa.

This octopus was photographed in late afternoon on an overcast day on the north-east coast of Bali. The habitat was a black volcanic sand-slope at a depth of 12m and away from the coral reefs. Initially the octopus was hiding inside of a bivalve shell with only its arms gaving away its location. Its coloration was a light brown and the blue spots were not visible. It was only after the octopus left its lair that it turned into its lighter coloration, the blue spots appeared and the brown circles appeared around the blue eye spots. The brown area became darker when he was traveling between refuges. The octopus was also able to be turned light grey; when he did this the rings were almost invisible. While the octopus was stationary and settled on a patch of algae or seagrass, it would take-on an overall darker coloration, but when it traveled over plain sand or above the bottom, it turned a lighter color with stripes. After our encounter, the octopus lifted from the last patch of algae and swam a few meters to its bivalve lair and climbed back inside.

These images are from professional photographer Jeff Mullins. Jeff designed an underwater leak detector and is an underwater photography instructor.


Caldwell, Roy Pers Comm

Mullins, Jeff Pers Comm

Norman, M 2003. Cephalopods a World Guide. Conch Books 320 pgs.

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The Cephalopod Page (TCP), © Copyright 1995-2018, was created and is maintained by Dr. James B. Wood, Associate Director of the Waikiki Aquarium which is part of the University of Hawaii. Please see the FAQs page for cephalopod questions, Marine Invertebrates of Bermuda for information on other invertebrates, and and the Census of Marine Life for general information on marine biology.