Gozo & MaltaAtlantic Species

Common Name: Octopus

Scientific Names: Octopus vulgaris

Description: The main body can be 15-20cm but the arms extend widely to double this length. The prominent head with its two eyes, joins smoothly onto a sac-like rounded body. The eight arms are partially joined to form a web beneath which is a mouth with a beak. The texture and colour of the body can change to match the particular habitat the animal finds itself in.

Distinctive Features: The very distinctive shape, eight suckered arms and prominent eyes.

Abundance: Solitary. Since they actively and effectively camouflage themselves they can be difficult to see but they are common. On dives, or when snorkelling over rocky habitats, one or two may be seen per session.

Habitat & Behaviour: They are found mainly in rocky habitats and live in crevices during the day. They are found out in the open much more on night dives when it would be normal to see 3 or 4 on a dive.

Reaction to Snorkellers & Divers:As the video clip shows they demonstrate a range of behaviours from staying put to see if their camouflage works, to crawling or swimming quickly away. They are very entertaining since their colour and texture changes can be dramatic. They are an iconic species that can really make a dive memorable.

Maltese Name: Qarnita komuni

Other Notes: There is a catch. They are highly prized for food and hunted routinely by local snorkellers who are very successful at catching them. Don’t shout out that you have found one when snorkelling otherwise you will be witness to their quick demise!

Text: Bob Earll
Photo: Russell & Gill Bennett
Video: Russell & Gill Bennett

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