Bioluminescent Octopus Facts
- Firstly, the Bioluminescent Octopus, or Stauroteuthis syrtensis, is a truly fascinating deep-sea species. Unfortunately, but understandably, the remarkable animal has also been relatively little studied.
- However, the most incredible thing about this creature remains one particular trait. This unique cephalopod actually evolved, as the common name indicates, the trait of bioluminescence.
- Further, the IUCN currently lists the amazing species of octopus as Data Deficient. The reason for the great lack of information remains the specific nature of the natural habitat of the creature.
Bioluminescent Octopus Physical Description
Most notably, regardless of its impressive capability, the Bioluminescent Octopus is a physically small specimen. Furthermore, unlike some cephalopods, it does not show any noticeable degree of sexual dimorphism.
A mature adult has a mantle that does not exceed 4 in (10 cm) in length. Also, in width, this averages about 1.6 in (4 cm). In addition, the eight tentacles grow to different lengths. The longest two reach about 14 in (35 cm).
Also, in color, the animal typically shows a reddish-brown. Yet, despite the dark color, its organs sometimes appear visible through the skin. But, the photophores lining its tentacles are its most memorable feature.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Mollusca
- Class: Cephalopoda
- Order: Octopoda
- Family: Stauroteuthidae
- Genus: Stauroteuthis
- Species: S. syrtensis
Bioluminescent Octopus Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
First of all, the Bioluminescent Octopus lives in the North Atlantic Ocean at an extreme depths. These further range from 1,600 – 13,100 ft (500 – 4,000 m). Also, it most frequently appears a few hundred yards from the bottom of the ocean at depths between 4,900-8,200 ft (1,500-2,500 m).
But, it seems to be the most common on the edge of the continental shelf on the eastern coast of the United States, in North America. However, it also seems to be present at similar depths off the British Isles.
The Bioluminescent Octopus emits a blue-green light from about 40 modified suckers, photophores. These develop in a single row between the pairs of cirri on the underside of the arms.
Interestingly, the animal does not emit light all the time. This usually happens for a period of five minutes after suitable stimulation. Some of the photophores emit a continuous stream of faint light, while others are much brighter and switch on and off in a cyclical pattern, producing a twinkling effect.
Finally, the function of the bioluminescence is perhaps for defense. That would be to scare off potential predators, and also as a lure for the small crustaceans that form its primary diet.