An Octopus in Antarctica: Do you recognize it?

I don’t know what to say about this creature. The expedition staff on our cruise had never seen an octopus in Antarctica. This one was in the shallow water near Port Lockroy. If you have any ideas on what species it is, please let me know.

An octopus in the swallow water of Port Lockroy. Photo courtesy of Glen Gould.

The octopus swims away. Photo courtesy of Glen Gould.











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13 Responses to An Octopus in Antarctica: Do you recognize it?

  1. Bunny says:

    Thank you Dr. Fry!

  2. Little hard to tell from the photo, but based on your description of size (most Antarctic occies are quite small), I’d say most likely Megaleledone setebos They get much larger than that


  3. Cthulhus minion says:

    Folks over at tonmo should be able to id it. especially if Steve O’Shea happens to be lurking.

  4. Bunny says:

    Katinkate, it’s not a squid. It is an octopus.

    I’ve ruled out an octopus in a bunch of bananas and also the Pacific red octopus. The Southern Ocean is bounded by a convergence zone that acts as a barrier to species. Ralf has the best lead. The VenomDoc studies all species that use venom, including Antarctic octopus species, snakes, and more. He has a very extensive site. I hope he will be able to provide the species.

    It’s not easy to tell from the photo, but this octopus is, at most, 2 feet long. AND very cute!

  5. ambulocetacean says:

    I suspect it’s just a common Pacific North-West tree octopus. Yes, it’s an arboreal species, but some tourists probably accidentally brought it down in a bunch of bananas or something.

  6. Greg Laden says:

    Have you considered the basic “Pacific red” octopus? Or ruled that one out?

  7. Katkinkate says:

    There’s a species of squid with webbing between its arms that lives in deep water, the vampire squid . It could be this individual has been chased into shallow water, or it has become disoriented.

  8. Bunny says:

    Thanks so much. I set up an account on venomdoc. As soon as it’s approved, I’ll see if someone can give me the species name.

  9. On, there are dozens of pictures of antarctic cephs, including a reddish, deeply webbed one. Unfortunately the pictures don’t have the species names.

  10. Elizabeth L. says:

    This just came in:

    New One-Stop Source for Scientific Information about U.S. Oceans and Waters

    • Bunny says:

      Thanks for the suggestion. I actually read about those new creatures. However, this octopus didn’t look like that, at least in person. The one I saw is deeply webbed and the new one looks to have more gangly arms. I suspect that the octopus I saw has been in Antarctica all along, but not in this area. Maybe this one showing up in a new area has to do with climate change or a predator chasing it? Of course, I’ve only been to Antarctica once. But the expedition staff have been there as much as 40 times.

  11. The Wanderer says:

    The octopus could be this guy, but it doesn’t look quite right. The one in your photo seems to have a lot more membrane between the tentacles. They can change color, so that is not a good guide.

    Or maybe this guy going for a swim.

    The Wanderer

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