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.
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
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.
TONMO.com – The Octopus News Magazine Online
Research Octopus vulgaris @
Barcode of Life BioOne Biodiversity Heritage Library CITES Cornell Macaulay Library Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) ESA Online Journals FishBase Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department 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