MIMIC OCTOPUS (Thaumoctopus mimicus)
The Mimic Octopus is found in mostly murky coastal shallows across the Indo-Pacific, and is most famous for its ability to mimic the appearance and behaviour of many other ocean creatures, including lionfish, sea snakes and jellyfish. They can do this thanks to specialised skin pigments called chromatophores, which change colour and texture at will. Their shape-shifting is used for simple camouflage or to fool potential predators they are more dangerous than they actually are. Like all octopus they possess eight arms and three hearts, and move via jet propulsion or using tentacles as ‘legs’ to walk across the substrate, with their other tentacles raised above their heads like arms. When mating, the male octopus inserts a specialised arm called a hectocotylus into the female’s mantle, depositing sperm. Soon after mating the hectocotylus falls off, and the male dies. The female carries the fertilised eggs on strings attached to her body until the larvae hatch, after which she also dies. The lifespan of the Mimic Octopus is approximately nine months.