Act! Support Our Efforts
Ocean Conservation Marine Life Species Database Education+Careers Projects Contributors Photos Videos News Connect

Common Octopuses, Octopus vulgaris

Common OctopusesCommon OctopusesCommon OctopusesContribute Photos or VideoContribute Photos or Video

Description & Behavior

Common octopuses, Octopus vulgaris (Cuvier, 1797), reach between 30-91 cms in length and, like other octopus species, they have eight arms with numerous suckers and no internal shell. It is thought that this species has a number of subspecies, but they have not yet been taxonomically classified.

World Range & Habitat

Octopus vulgaris are found worldwide in tropical and temperate waters. They are abundant in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Japan, and in the Eastern Atlantic in coastal waters between 1-200 m.

Feeding Behavior (Ecology)

Common octopuses, like other octopus species, discard the remains of their bivalve and crustacean prey just outside their lairs into piles called middens. These piles have proven useful to scientists to study the feeding habits of the common octopus. The piles also make it easier to spot an octopus lair and therefore perhaps an octopus.

Life History

Common octopuses lay about 100,000-500,000 eggs, each about the size of a grain of rice, during each breeding cycle that hatch and live in the plankton for 1.5-2 months. The juveniles that don't get eaten as part of the planktonic food web can live for up to 1.5 years.

Conservation Status & Comments

Octopus vulgaris is one of the most common octopus species commercially fished for food and for the aquarium trade. Between 10,000 and 20,000 metric tons of common octopuses are caught by commercial fisheries yearly using unbaited octopus pots. The empty pots are simply used to attract unsuspecting octopuses as seemingly safe havens.

References & Further Research

Octopus vulgaris - By Dr. James B. Wood, The Cephalopod Page
Dr. James B. Wood, The Cephalopod Page
Roper, C.F.E., M.J. Sweeney & C.E. Nauen, 1984. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 3. Cephalopods of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of species of interest to fisheries. FAO Fish. Synop., (125) Vol. 3277p.
Tree of Life: Cephalopoda
Tree of Life Cephalopoda Glossary
National Resource Center for Cephalopods
Norman, M., Debelius, H. 2000. Cephalopods - A World Guide, Conchbooks, Germany. 319 p. - The Octopus News Magazine Online

Research Octopus vulgaris » Barcode of Life ~ Taxonomy ~ BioOne ~ Biodiversity Heritage Library ~ CITES ~ Cornell Macaulay Library [audio / video] ~ Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) ~ ESA Online Journals ~ FishBase ~ Florida Museum of Natural History ~ GBIF ~ Google Scholar ~ ITIS ~ IUCN RedList (Threatened Status) ~ Marine Species Identification Portal ~ NCBI (PubMed, GenBank, etc.) ~ Ocean Biogeographic Information System ~ PLOS ~ SIRIS ~ Tree of Life Web Project ~ UNEP-WCMC Species + Database ~ WoRMS

Search for Common Octopuses » ARKive ~ Flickr ~ Google ~ Creative Commons search ~ Wikipedia ~ YouTube

Feedback & Citation

Start or join a discussion about this species below or send us an email to report any errors or submit suggestions for this page. We greatly appreciate all feedback!

~^~ surface

Help Protect and Restore Ocean Life

Help us protect and restore marine life by supporting our various online community-centered marine conservation projects that are effectively sharing the wonders of the ocean with millions each year around the world, raising a balanced awareness of the increasingly troubling and often very complex marine conservation issues that affect marine life and ourselves directly, providing support to marine conservation groups on the frontlines that are making real differences today, and the scientists, teachers and students involved in the marine life sciences.

Show your support with a monthly donation today.

With your support, most marine life and their ocean habitats can be protected, if not restored to their former natural levels of biodiversity. We sincerely thank our thousands of members, donors and sponsors, who have decided to get involved and support the MarineBio Conservation Society.