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Octopuses in Molokini

Some of the most fascinating creatures inhabiting Molokini Crater are octopuses!

Their ability to camouflage in an instant, changing from brown to red to white, is incredible. Although it is rare to see an octopus while diving, it is possible, and quite a sight. Octopuses glide through the water effortlessly, and secrete black ink when threatened. They are considered by humans to be the smartest invertebrates on the planet, and with good reason! Octopuses have been witnessed using tools, and some octopus dens have been discovered full of objects lost by divers. To try and find an octopus, look for discarded shells outside a hole in the reef. This could be one of the entrances to an octopus den. Float quietly nearby, and wait to see if the 8 armed occupant comes out!

Learn more about octopuses here.

a close up of an animal

Seen above, the Hawaiian day octopus.

Day Octopus (He’e mauli)

The male and female day octopuses have a very short life span of one year. When the female is ready, she lays her eggs in a crevice that she barricades with her body. The eggs take three weeks to develop. The mother starves during this time in order to stand guard at the entrance to the hole. When the babies hatch, she blows them out to sea to begin life on their own.

White-Striped Octopus

Also known as the Pacific striped octopus, this octopus is unique in that it does not pounce on its prey, but startles them into its arms. The Pacific striped octopuses are not solitary, but travel in groups of up to 40. Males and females mate aggressively, beak to beak, suctioned onto one another.

Sand Octopus

The sand octopus, most active at night, is the second most commonly sighted at Molokini. During the day, sand octopuses bury themselves in the sand, earning them their name. Sand octopuses can change shape and color, and their arm span can be up to 20 inches. The sand octopus can also be found in Australia and Tasmania.