Every week, over the summer, the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust is focusing on a marine species and providing an activity idea to keep your children, grand-children, nieces or nephews entertained. First in the series is an animal that’s able to move using jet propulsion, disappear in a cloud of ink or blend perfectly with its surroundings: there is much more to the common octopus than an ability to predict football results.
Found in temperate and tropical waters of all the world’s seas, including the North Sea off the Lincolnshire coast, the common octopus is considered amongst the most intelligent of all invertebrate animals. Being without a backbone aids the octopus if it needs to escape from predators - it is able to squeeze its soft body through a hole not much bigger than its eye. This is just one in a myriad of ways in which the octopus can thwart potential predators.
Octopuses are good swimmers; they can also more very rapidly using jet propulsion: taking water into their body cavity and expelling it through a funnel giving them speeds of 25 miles per hour over short distances. They can mask themselves with a cloud of ink released into the water; and the ink also contains a substance that dulls a predator’s sense of smell making it harder to follow the octopus. They are able to change their skin to match not only the colour and pattern of their surroundings but also the texture; perfectly camouflaging themselves and disappearing from view. If this all fails and a predator manages to grab hold of an arm, the octopus can lose one arm and grow a replacement later.
The common octopus is just one of over 40,000 species of animals and plants that live in the UK’s seas. The Wildlife Trusts have a vision of Living Seas, in which wildlife thrives from the depths of the ocean to the coastal shallows. To find out more, visit our Living Seas webpages.
Things to do:
Make your own octopus
Download the instructions to make your own cute octopus from a cardboard tube.
Wonders of the Wash from 11am until 5pm on Sunday 15 August at Gibraltar Point.