Tag Archives: Octopus

Cephalopod Ink…What is it?

Have you ever watched an octopus shoot out a cloud of ink to escape to safety? It’s pretty amazing that these cephalopods (members of the Molluscan class) release large amounts of ink into the water to escape from predators. But what is this ink actually made out of, and how does the whole process work?

Cephalopod ink can contain a number of different chemicals in a variety of different concentrations based on the certain species. The main component in Cephalopods ink is melanin. Sound familiar? This is because us humans have this same dark pigment that is responsible for the color of our hair and skin. How cool is that! This special dye is contained in an ink sac, but not all octopuses have an ink sac or the ability to produce ink. Different species of cephalopods also produce different colors of ink as well. Typically octopus and squid produce black ink, but ink can also be brown, reddish, or even a dark blue.

Octopus and Squid use their ink as a defense mechanism to escape from prey. When feeling threatened, they can release large amounts of ink into the water using their siphon. This ink creates a dark cloud that can obscure the predators view so the cephalopod can jet away quickly. The ink also can contain a compound known as tyrosinase, which irritates the predator’s eyes and paralyzes their sense of smell temporarily. Talk about a double whammy!

Believe it or not humans have also found ways to use cephalopod ink. As its name suggests, humans have used the ink to actually write with in the past. For more of a modern use, humans have also used the ink for food coloring and to add flavor in foods such as pastas and sauces.



Written By: Brooke Fox

Octopus Jet Propulsion

The Two Spot Octopus that reside in California waters are members of the invertebrate phylum Mollusca, which translates to soft body. The octopus is true to their phylum in that they indeed are soft, with only a beak as the hard part of their body. Octopus belong in the class Cephalopod, which means head foot and other members of the class include squid, nautilus and cuttlefish.


Many people believe that octopus move only by pushing with their arms and tentacles but they can move via jet propulsion and only a few animals in the ocean can do that. Jet propulsion happens when the animal takes in water through its mantle. The water is then pushed through the siphon, a tube like part that has a larger opening on the inside and becomes narrower. This is comparable to putting your thumb on the end of a hose in an attempt to get the water to go further. With this method of travel, some Cephalopod can move in excess of 25 miles per hour. Furthermore, the water being pushed out the siphon can be used to disburse ink, creating a smoke screen that can help them evade predators.






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