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WHAT IS THE OCTOPUS?


There are approximately 200 known species of octopuses. Larger species are most often found in cold, northern waters. Most make their homes in shallow coastal water and live inside dens or small caves at the ocean floor level. If no such items are available, octopuses will happily live inside old car tires, pots, jars and other debris. Octopuses are considered anti-social, and live and travel alone.



Octopuses frequently block the entrance to their homes with rocks and debris to keep others at arms length. Octopuses come in all sizes from 2-inches long to 18-feet in length. The most widely known octopus is the Common Octopus, which lives in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic oceans. The Common octopus reaches 10-feet in length. The larger, Giant Octopus, makes its home in the Pacific, and has a diameter of over 30-feet. Common North American octopus include the Common octopus, Giant octopus, and the American devilfish.














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Octopuses are perhaps best known for their long, sucker carrying arms. The typical octopus has 8 arms, with each arm holding two rows of fleshy suckers. Each octopus has a total of 240 suction cups on the underside of each arm. If an arm is bitten off, diseased or otherwise missing from the octopus, a new arm grows back in its place. The arms are joined at the base of the octopus in an area known as the "skirt." In the center of the skirt, lies the the octopus' mouth. The mouth of the octopus contains a pair of sharp, horn-styled beaks and the radula, an organ used to drill shells apart and suck away fleshy meat. The octopus seizes its prey by means of its sucker-bearing arms. It then pulls the prey into its mouth. A poisonous salivary secretion is emitted immediately, paralyzing the prey and partially digesting it. The octopus then chews, using both its horny jaw and radula. Common prey of the octopus include crabs and lobsters. Several species of octopus feed on other shellfish, plankton and marine fish.

 

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