octopus and squid

The following species have been observed thus far in surveys of Fishing Bay and Indian Island. 
 Look for future updates.

 Red Octopus

(Octopus rubescens)

    Look for:  Mantle to 4"
                          Arms are four times body length
                          Normal color is reddish brown but can
                                 change quickly to yellow, brown,
                                 white, red or mottled

     Diet:  Night forager, scouring the sea bottom to flush
                          out prey.
                  Individuals gather several items of prey then
                           return to their dens to eat.  The red
                            octopus kills crabs with venom secreted 
                            from salivary glands, then cracks the
                            shell with its beak. It kills snails by 
                            drilling a hole in the shell with the radula
                           and  injecting a chemical that dissolves

                           the snail's flesh.  An octopus places the

                             empty shells of its prey outside its den 

                             in what is often referred to as an

                             "octopus's garden".
      Habitat: In sand and rocky areas, intertidal to 660'  
      Life cycle: The red octopus lives about 2 years.
      They mate in the late winter and early spring after             which the  males die. The females spawn in the spring in the intertidal zone, protect and groom their eggs and then die. Young are planktonic and there are reports that they school. 

        Notes:  The octopus can change coloration in a fraction of a  second to camouflage with its                 surroundings. It can also alter its skin texture to match sand or the smooth texture of a rock.

 (Play video at right to see the red octopus undergo changes in its coloration.)
         The octopus has excellent eyesight and uses touch and smell  to find food.  
         The octopus is thought to be highly intelligent.

It's best not to touch a red octopus you may see in the intertidal.  These creatures have sharp beaks and can bite.  They then deposit venom on the wound which can slow healing.

 Opalescent Squid

(Loligo opalescens)

     Look for:  Long, tapering body
                          8 arms
                          2 longer tentacles with suckers on ends
                           Mantle not fused to head
                           Corneas over eyes
                            White to brown: color is most often
                            bluish-white or mottled brown and gold
                            but may change to dark red or brown
                            when excited,  
                            frightened or needing to camouflage. 
     Diet:  A predatory carnivore feeding on small fish, crustaceans or other invertebrates.
     Habitat: Lives in the nearshore (within 200 mi. of shore). Spends most of the year in deep water but enters shallow waters to spawn and lay eggs (July –September in Washington.
     Range: Eastern Pacific, Baja California to Alaska
     Life cycle: Lives about 4–9 mo.  Life cycle includes egg, hatchling, juvenile and adult. Female lays 
20–30 egg capsules containing 100–300 eggs each.  
    Notes:  The opalescent squid's body is adapted for fast, long-distance swimming.  It has great maneuverability, swimming forward as well as backwards.  
                     This species is commonly referred to as market squid and is harvested as calamari.

red octopus

red octopus, Indian Island, August 2010

opalescent squid                   photo by Sharon Bannick

Loligo opalescens eggs