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Underwater Photo of the Week - November 12, 2018

Poison Ocellate Octopus

POTW November 12, 2018


Hi Gang!

This week’s POTW is a portrait of a small cephalopod commonly known as the poison ocellate octopus. The species taxonomic name is Octopus mototi. Both the common and scientific names are derived from the language spoken on the South Pacific island of Rapa where this octopus is referred to as “fe’e mototi”, meaning poison octopus.

Most of the time the body color of a poison ocellate octopus consists of somewhat drab hues of tan, orange and off-white. But when alarmed they are often quick to change their color to a variety of bright warm hues like the yellow seen here. In other instances, they display maroon stripes over a cream-colored body.

One iridescent blue ring located on each side of the body quickly becomes more prominent when a poison ocellate octopus appears to feel threatened or disturbed.

While docile by nature. At least in terms of its relationship to divers, the use of the word poison is certainly appropriate as the venom of the poison ocellate octopus is more potent than that of the blue-ringed octopus. 

The poison ocellate octopus preys mostly on a variety of shellfish and hermit crabs. When capturing its victim, a poison ocellate octopus typically drills through the shell with its powerful beak, and then it injects its paralyzing venom. Once the victim is subdues, the octopus extracts its prey.

The poison ocellate octopus is reported to reach an arm tip-to arm tip length of  almost 25 inches, but most specimens would easily fit in the palm of your hand. However, putting one there would be a very risky behavior! 

The poison ocellate octopus inhabits a wide swath of the Indo-Pacific where it resides in coral reef communities and areas where the sea floor consists of rubble and sand. 

I captured this image this past September while diving from the Atlantis Resort in Dumaguete, Philippines on a dive with a group organized by Captain Steve.

I hope you enjoy this week’s POTW!

See you next week,


See you next week,