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Grimpella thaumastocheir (Family Octopodidae)

Velvet Octopus



Only known from South Australia and southern Western Australia (SA, WA).


A moderate-sized muscular octopus with an armspan reaching around 30 cm. The body is round to oval and the eyes are large. The eight arms have two rows of suckers, some enlarged on all arms in adult males. The arms are around three to four times the length of the body. The webs are well developed between the arms. This octopus is one of the few shallow-water species that lack an ink sac. The common name of this octopus comes from the velvety appearance caused by an iridescent green sheen over the purple-brown background colour. The skin is covered in scattered low bumps.

Ecology/Way of Life:

This octopus occurs from shallow waters to at least several hundred metres deep. It shows several features of deep-sea octopuses, namely the lack of an ink sac and simple colour patterns and skin sculpture. It is placed in its own genus because of the lack of an ink sac. It is possible that this octopus had ancestors in deep water that lost their ink sacs (as ink provides little protection in the dark). The ancestors may then have returned to a life in shallower waters. The Velvet Octopus occurs on rocky reefs and rubble areas where it emerges at night to forage.

Little is known of reproductive behaviour. Adult males have specially enlarged suckers on all arms that may be used in courtship displays or behaviours. Mating occurs by the male passing sperm packets to the female with its third right arm, inserting them within the oviducts. Females lay large eggs under boulders or in crevices. The large young would quickly adopt a bottom-living habit on hatching.

Preferred Image

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

This octopus is not very common and there are no human harvests.

Further Reading:

Norman, M.D. and A. Reid. 2000. A guide to the squid, cuttlefishes and octopuses of Australasia. Gould League/CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne. 96 pp.

Norman, M.D. 2000. Cephalopods: A world guide. ConchBooks, Hackenheim, Germany.


Text and photographs by Mark Norman, Museum Victoria.

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Images and Multi-media:  
Attached Image  
image/jpeg 208265 bytes The Velvet Octopus
Attached Image  
image/jpeg 194032 bytes Female Velvet Octopus with eggs
Distribution Map  
image/jpeg 32044 bytes Distribution of Velvet Octopus

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