Unlike other ocean animals, the mimic octopus copies other ocean creatures, like the “venomous sole, lion fish, sea snakes, sea anemones, and jellyfish – the mimic is able to imitate a sole by pulling its arms in, flattening to a leaf-like shape, and increasing speed using a jet-like propulsion that resembles a sole.” Continue reading for a video and more information.
- Living in the tropical seas of Southeast Asia, it was not discovered officially until 1998, off the coast of Sulawesi. Recently found in the great barrier reef in Northern Queensland in 2010. The octopus mimics the physical likeness and movements of more than 15 different species, including sea snakes, lionfish, flatfish, brittle stars, giant crabs, sea shells, stingrays, flounders, jellyfish, sea anemones, and mantis shrimp. It accomplishes this by contorting its body and arms, and changing colour.
- Although all octopuses can change colour and texture, and many can blend with the sea floor, appearing as rocks, the Mimic Octopus is the first octopus species ever observed to impersonate other animals. Based on observation, the Mimic Octopus may decide which animal to impersonate depending on local predators. For example, when the octopus was being attacked by damselfish, the octopus was observed to appear as a banded sea snake, a damselfish predator. The octopus impersonates the snake by turning black and yellow, burying six of its arms, and waving its other two arms in opposite directions.
- The Mimic Octopus is often confused with Wunderpus photogenicus, another recently discovered species. Wunderpus can be distinguished by the pattern of strong, fixed white markings on its body. The Mimic Octopus lives exclusively in nutrient-rich estuarine bays of Indonesia and Malaysia full of potential prey. It uses a jet of water through its funnel to glide over the sand while searching for prey, typically small fish, crabs, and worms. It also is prey to other species.