Story: Octopus and squid

Camouflaged midget octopus

Camouflaged midget octopus

Octopus are masters of camouflage. This midget octopus (centre) blends in well with the bryozoans and shells on the sea floor. Octopus have thousands of special skin cells called chromatophores, which contain coloured pigments. These contract and expand almost instantaneously in response to changes in the surroundings. Special reflective cells (iridophores) in the skin impart an iridescence that assists with camouflage. Octopus can also alter their texture by raising or lowering tiny skin bumps (papillae).

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Reference: 005237
Photograph by Peter Batson

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How to cite this page:

Maggy Wassilieff and Steve O’Shea, 'Octopus and squid - Head-footed animals', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 3 June 2023)

Story by Maggy Wassilieff and Steve O’Shea, published 12 Jun 2006