Did you know that there as many as 300 different recognized species of octopuses in the world? Out of them, the ones you have most commonly heard about are both the Caribbean Octopuses, Algae Octopus, Atlantic Pygmy Octopus, Bimac Octopus, etc.
Although Octopuses are rarely kept as pets, if you’ve ever seen a pet octopus in somebody’s home, it is most likely one of the above-mentioned species.
But have you ever heard of Flapjack Octopus? Never? Let us refresh your memory a bit. Have you watched the popular animated movie, “Finding Nemo”?
At the beginning of the movie, Nemo has a classmate named “Pearl”, an adorable, pink-colored octopus with round, blue eyes. This octopus was designed by artist Andrew Stanton to be a Flapjack Octopus. The image of Pearl must’ve given you a rough idea of what Flapjack Octopuses look like.
In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about the Flapjack Octopus, beginning from how they were named and ending with some interesting facts about them.
Flapjack Octopus: at a glance
To begin with, let us take a look at the table given below to know more about the background, nature, and physical specifications of the Flapjack Octopus.
|Binominal name||Opisthoteuthis Californiana|
|Average lifespan||1.4-2.6 years|
|Average mantle length||20 cm (7.9 inches)|
|Habitat regions||Eastern Pacific Ocean|
|Average weight||25-30 grams|
How was the Flapjack Octopus named?
In 1949, the species of the Flapjack Octopus was first discovered by Samuel Stillman Berry. Berry was an American marine zoologist specializing in cephalopods who passed away in 1984.
While their scientific name is Opisthoteuthis Californiana, Stephanie Bush insists on changing it to “Opisthoteuthis Adorabilis” due to their adorable appearance. Bush is a postdoctoral researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, California, and has been working with the species for quite a while now.
As far as their common name is concerned, the Flapjack Octopus has been named so due to its ability to flatten itself out so thin that it appears like a pancake or a flapjack.
What does the Flapjack Octopus look like?
If you divide all the species of octopuses into different categories according to their size, the Flapjack Octopus will belong to the group of small octopuses. While the average size of octopuses ranges between 12 to 36 inches, the Flapjack Octopus has a mantle length of merely 7 inches.
The body of the Flapjack Octopus is shaped more or less like an egg and is spongy and gelatinous in texture. These octopuses have a transparent-looking skin and are found in three different colors: red, pinkish, and yellow-orangish.
Flapjack Octopuses have prominent eyes that are larger than the other octopus species. Their eyes are shaped like a kidney and bulge out of the socket like the eyes of the bovine animals. Due to their bulgy eyes, most aquatic animals can find their staring face quite intimidating.
On the top of their mantles, right above their eyes, the Flapjack Octopus has two flappy structures. To most people, these might appear like ears, but they are actually fins. Not all the octopus species have fins. Therefore, the fins of the Flapjack Octopus distinguish it from the other octopus species.
Moreover, the Flapjack Octopus doesn’t have an ink sac, which is a common feature in most of the other coleoidea (cuttlefish, octopus, and squids). The ink sacs in octopuses are located near digestive systems.
The sac is filled with ink, which they eject with a burst of water whenever they feel threatened by a predator. The liquid blinds the predator temporarily and gives the octopus time to swim away safely.
Like the other finned octopus species, the Flapjack Octopus also has a single row of suckers on each of its tentacles. The male Flapjack Octopuses are slightly larger in size than their female partners.
Flapjack Octopus belongs to the Umbrella Octopus family
Just like the Dumbo Octopus, the Flapjack Octopus also belongs to the family of Umbrella Octopus. Umbrella octopuses have been named so because of their umbrella-like appearance during any kind of movement.
Unlike other octopuses, these octopuses have a thin, web-like skin which joins each of their tentacles to the other at the edge. Thus, when they spread their tentacles out, they appear to be like an umbrella.
If you look at a Flapjack Octopus swimming from afar, it might look like an umbrella or a parachute floating in the ocean to you.
Where does the Flapjack Octopus live?
The Flapjack Octopus loves to live in the depth of the ocean, where there is very little light. While the new-born octopuses live 200 meters below the sea level, the adult ones like to go much deeper. Their habitat ranges between the depth of 500-1500 meters.
Although the Flapjack Octopus can swim, they like to stay close to the ground of the sea in order to have easy access to food.
Like we mentioned earlier, the species of Flapjack Octopuses are understudied. This is why it is difficult to be accurate about their whereabouts.
Most of their specimens have been collected from the coasts of California and Japan. However, it is believed that they also live in the Bering sea, the sea of Okhotsk, and around the island of Honshu, Japan.
What does the Flapjack Octopus eat?
Like all the other octopus species, the Flapjack Octopus is also carnivorous. While they look adorable on the outside, as predators, they are deadly. They have a remarkable hunting method: they pounce on their prey and then use their beaks to kill it.
The best hunting trick of the Flapjack Octopus is to flatten themselves out in order to appear less threatening to their prey. It is also the reason why they are called “flapjack”.
On the other hand, when the Flapjack Octopus is threatened by a predator that can prey on them, they quickly hide behind the sea rocks or crevices to save themselves. Their small size helps them with hiding.
The Flapjack Octopus mainly eats prawns, lobsters, crayfish, shrimps, krill, crabs, barnacles, woodlice, polychaete worms, planktons, and other small fish.
The reproductive process in Flapjack Octopus
During the mating season, the male Flapjack Octopus perform various sexual rituals in order to attract their potential female partners. Once the females respond to them, they proceed to copulate.
In the process of copulation, the males hold the females firmly and insert their hectocotylus inside their mantle cavity. The hectocotylus is a modified arm of the males through which they transfer their sperms into their females.
It is inside their mantle cavity where fertilization occurs. The incubation period in females is still known, but it is believed that they produce between 225 and 475 eggs. After the incubation period is over, the embryos are hatched into the planktonic stage.
After hatching, the baby Flapjack octopuses stay with for a short time, about a month, after which they are large enough to survive independently. Once they part ways, the parents return to their habitat in the depth of the ocean.
It is also said that the male dies shortly after the mating season, while the female Flapjack octopuses die shortly after the eggs hatch. This belief holds more conviction because it is true in the case of other octopus species as well.
The predator of the Flapjack Octopus
Due to insufficient data, not much is known about the aquatic animals that feed on these cute little creatures.
However, it is safe to assume that the animals that prey on other octopus species are a probable threat to these octopuses as well. Whales, seals, and some other varieties of large fish usually hunt and feed on most kinds of octopus.
The Flapjack Octopus is more vulnerable to their predators than the other octopuses because they lack the ink sac, helping the other species escape from their predators.
However, what they lack in distraction, they make up for with their small bodies that are easy to hide when they see a predator approaching.
How does the Flapjack Octopus move?
The Flapjack Octopus has a movement that is different from the other octopuses. While moving in the ocean, they use both their fins as well as the web-like skin that joins their tentacles.
The fins attached at the sides of their mantle cavity make their movements smoother and gentler and work as perfect navigators. Occasionally, these funnels create a propelling force that pushes them forward in the water.
While all these mechanisms might sound mundane in theory, to watch the Flapjack Octopus moving is a sight to behold. They look like a glossy ball of parachute bouncing around. The movements of these little octopuses enchant most visitors at aquariums.
Flapjack Octopus: conservation status
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has categorized the Flapjack Octopuses into the “Data Deficient” list because there has been no estimated population count for their species yet. However, most researchers believe that this unique octopus species is not likely to be endangered in any manner.
Can Flapjack Octopus attack humans?
The Flapjack Octopuses are creatures of the deep sea, and generally have nothing to do with humans, much like many other octopus species.
However, there have been certain incidents where octopuses have seen attacking humans. Therefore, it is completely natural for you to worry about being attacked by one.
However, the Flapjack Octopuses are far too small to cause any severe damage to humans. Moreover, the researchers who have kept specimens of Flapjack Octopuses under observation have never admitted to experiencing any hostility from them.
On the contrary, most of the researchers claim that these little creatures are extremely cute and sweet, and mean no harm to them.
Can humans eat Flapjack Octopuses?
Although eating octopus is not as common as pork or beef, people of certain cultures tend to eat octopus. The countries where the octopuses are a part of the cuisine are Korea, Maldives, Japan, Turkey, Greece, Mauritius, Spain, Tunisia, and Portugal.
The Giant Octopus, Webfoot Octopus, and Long Arm Octopus are most commonly eaten by people. However, many scientists are against this practice since they believe that octopuses can experience pain.
The Flapjack Octopuses are a relatively newer breed of octopus, which is why incidents of eating them have not been heard yet. But they have a soft, squishy body and are smaller in size. There is no reason why humans can’t eat them.
Can Flapjack Octopuses be kept as pets?
Most of the octopuses that are kept as pets are generally smaller in size. Since the Flapjack Octopuses are small in size and are not generally known to be violent towards humans, they can make great pets for humans.
However, since these octopuses live in the greater depth of the sea, they don’t do well in water that is shallower than a minimum of 300 meters. Since it is not possible to get that kind of water tank at home, it is best to let these creatures live in their natural habitats.
Another problem with keeping these octopuses as pets is that very little is known about them as of now. And, as a caring pet parent, you must know everything about your pet’s needs and requirements before bringing them home.
Otherwise, you would be clueless in case of any emergency, which is bad for both your as well as your pet’s health.
Interesting facts about the Flapjack Octopus
1. Out of all the cephalopods, Flapjack Octopus species are the most compressed in the anterior-posterior axis.
2. At times, people affectionately call the Flapjack Octopus “ghost octopus”, for they appear like a moving ghost covered in a mantle.
3. The species of Flapjack Octopuses belong to the genus Opisthoteuthis, a family of which all the members are collectively known as “flapjack devilfishes”.
4. The Flapjack Octopuses have inspired a series of kids accessories such as soft toys, sketchbooks, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many Flapjack Octopuses are there in the world? The species of the Flapjack Octopus is still relatively new for us. There is still a lot to research remaining, which is why it is difficult to be able to ascertain their numbers at this point.
Can the Flapjack Octopuses live in freshwater? No, it is highly unlikely for a Flapjack Octopus to live in freshwater. All the octopus species are strictly marine animals, and the Flapjack Octopus is no exception. Moreover, these octopuses have never been spotted in freshwater. The lack of evidence, thus, confirms the fact that the Flapjack Octopus cannot live in freshwater.
Are the Flapjack Octopuses gonochoric? Gonochorism is a state in which the individual of a species is one of at least two different sexes and retains their sexuality throughout their lives. Yes, the Flapjack Octopuses are gonochoric organisms.
Are Flapjack Octopuses venomous? Most octopuses are venomous, some more than the others. However, whether the Flapjack Octopuses are venomous or not is still unknown.
Are there any fictional references to the Flapjack Octopuses? Yes, the Flapjack Octopuses have appeared in two movies. In 1997, the octopus appeared as Chuchu in the movie “Kirby’s Dreamland 3”. This octopus has also appeared in the famous adventure film “Finding Nemo” as Pearl, Nemo’s classmate.
To sum it up
Out of all the 300 recognized octopus species, the Flapjack Octopuses are by the cutest and most innocent-looking octopus. They could have been ancient aquatic creatures, but to our civilization, their breed is relatively new.
Discovered in 1949, the Flapjack Octopuses are still an understudied octopus species. The researchers and marine wildlife experts around the world are still keeping specimens of this breed under observation to gain more knowledge about them.
Flapjack Octopuses are one of those octopus breeds which have fins. People often confuse their fins as their ears because of their location right above their eyes. They also lack the ink sac, which is common in most of the other octopuses and squids.
The Flapjack Octopuses are extremely small in sizes, as far as octopuses go. Their small size helps them hide from all the potential predators. While they look adorable to us, these carnivorous octopuses are lethal hunters who prey on smaller fish and other crustaceans. They pounce on their prey, using their beaks to kill them.
Due to their small size and adorable appearance, many people, particularly those who are passionate about keeping exotic pets, want to adopt the Flapjack Octopuses. However, they’re not readily available in most parts of the world. It is also suggested not to keep them as pets while the studies on them are still ongoing.
Once the researchers are done with their observation and declare them to be safe as pets, you can get one for yourself after making all the arrangements necessary for them.