The Mimic Octopus, Master of Disguise Essay

The Amazing Abilities of the Mimic Octopus

A truly intelligent, fantastic creature! Also known as the shapshifter of the sea.

The scientific name for this fantastic marine creature is Thaumoctopus mimious.

Only discovered recently in 1998, divers have verified the many faces of this chameleon of the sea. They are found on the coast of Sulawesi, Indonesia, but also spotted as far as the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. It is believed they can mimic up to 15 different types of marine species.

The generic name is derived from the Greek meaning “miracle.” It is a smaller octopus, usually two feet long with its arms about the size of a pencil. An octopus has three hearts, nine brains, and blue blood. Two of its hearts pump blood to the gills; the third heart pumps blood to the rest of the body.

The fifteen animals it most frequently mimics are; lionfish, sea snake, jellyfish, sole fish and, flatfish. It can also use aggressive mimicry to approach prey as it does when mimicking a crab.

Although most octopuses use camouflage to avoid predators, one rises above the rest, that is the mimic octopus. It is so intelligent; it chooses which animal that is around its habitat posing the more significant threat to impersonate.

The life span of the mimic octopus is about two years. When mating, the male inserts its hectocotylus, a specialized arm into the female’s mantle cavity depositing packets of sperm. Soon, the hectocotylus falls off, and shortly, the male dies. After the female lays her eggs, she quits eating and withers away. The eggs develop, and they are left to fend for themselves.

Animals the Mimic Octopus Mimics

Here are the ways the Mimic Octopus uses its particular adaptations:

  • Lionfish: By spreading out its arms and propelling itself through the water column, it first resembles the brown and white striped lionfish.
  • Sole (flatfish): The mimic octopus hurriedly glides over the ocean floor by pulling its arms flush against its body and flattening out to resemble the sole.
  • Seasnake: If threatened, the mimic octopus will pull six of its arms into its burrow, leaving two arms resting in the sandy bottom. The black and white banded arms look precisely like the venomous sea snake.

Scientists also believe this intelligent creature may also impersonate sand anemones, stingrays, mantis shrimp, and even jellyfish. Ongoing scientific studies are being done by marine biologists.

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