animal Type
Maximum Size

50 cm

(20 inches)

Depth

130–2,350 m

(430–7,710 feet)

Habitat

On and near the seafloor

Diet

Small worms, crustaceans, and other invertebrates

Range

Worldwide

About

This charming cephalopod made headlines for cuteness.

MBARI’s robotic submersibles often spot this little octopus resting on the mud, its orange body resembling a flat, fluffy pancake. When startled by a predator, a flapjack octopus perks up and swims to safety by flapping its stubby fins, pulsing its webbed arms, pushing water through its funnel for jet propulsion—or all three at once. When the coast is clear, it stretches its webbed arms and parachutes back to the seafloor.

Scientists think the flapjack octopus we see in Monterey Bay might be a new species. MBARI has teamed up with the Monterey Bay Aquarium to study and describe this “adorable” new species. MBARI scientists have collected detailed video observations of this octopus from the muddy floor of Monterey Canyon, and our colleagues at the Aquarium have kept some specimens alive in their Tentacles exhibition for closer study.

Gallery

Video Clips

Publications

Choy, C.A., S.H.D. Haddock, and B.H. Robison. 2017. Deep pelagic food web structure as revealed by in situ feeding observations. Proc Biol Sci, 284: 1–10. http://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2017.2116

Christiansen, S., H.J. Hoving, F. Schütte, H. Hauss, J. Karstensen, A. Körtzinger, S.M. Schröder, L. Stemmann, B. Christiansen, M. Picheral, P. Brandt, B. Robison, R. Koch, and R. Kiko. 2018. Particulate matter flux interception in oceanic mesoscale eddies by the polychaete Poeobius sp.. Limnology and Oceanography, 63: 2093–2109. https://doi.org/10.1002/lno.10926

Uttal, L., Buck, K. R. (1996). Dietary study of the midwater polychaete Poeobius meseres in Monterey Bay, California. Marine Biology 125: 333-343. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00346314