Everyone knows what an octopus is. But did you know that there are hundreds of species in the world? Some are hundreds of pounds, while others can fit in the palm of your hand. Regardless of the size, octopuses (and their close relatives, squids) come in a rainbow of glittering colors.
List of Colorful Octopuses and Squids
Here’s our list of the most colorful octopuses and squids in the world:
1. Coconut Octopus
- Latin name: Amphioctopus marginatus
- Habitat: Tropical areas of the western Pacific Ocean
- Size: Body length about 3″; length with arms about 6″
- Diet: Crabs, shrimp, and clams
- Colorful feature: This beautiful octopus comes in a range of different colors. Usually, its arms are dark and have contrasting white suckers. The coconut octopus is often dark red, though it is sometimes white or even bright yellow like the octopus in the photo.
You might wonder how this colorful creature came to be called the “coconut octopus.” That’s because it gathers coconut shells and some types of seashells for shelter. Since it has the capability to create a kind of “fortress” for protection, it’s one of the relatively few members of the animal kingdom capable of using tools. The coconut octopus is also one of only two octopus species that will sometimes walk on two legs. Experts think that walking this way may make it look like a floating coconut, effectively camouflaging it.
2. Atlantic Bobtail Squid
- Latin name: Sepiola atlantica
- Habitat: Parts of the Atlantic Ocean ranging from Iceland and the Faroe Islands to Morocco
- Size: Body length is about 0.83″
- Diet: Small shrimp and crustaceans
- Colorful feature: Like many squid species, this one can vary in color and pattern. Most individuals have pale bodies with formica-like spotting. And as you can see in the picture, they also are often iridescent!
Along with other bobtail squid species, the Atlantic bobtail is a great illustration of the close relationship between octopus and squid. At first glance, it looks a lot like a small, shiny octopus! Its habitat stretches over part of the Atlantic Ocean, but there is a record of one single Atlantic bobtail being caught in the Mediterranean Sea.
3. Greater Blue-Ringed Octopus
- Latin name: Hapalochlaena lunulata
- Habitat: Tropical and subtropical parts of the Indo-West Pacific
- Size: Up to about 4″ long including arms
- Diet: Mostly crabs and smaller shrimp
- Colorful feature: This octopus, as the name suggests, is adorned with electric blue rings. When the octopus is threatened, the rings will flash a deeper iridescent blue.
No list of colorful octopus species is complete without this one. Though it’s beautiful, it’s also one of the most venomous animals on earth. It uses two types of venom: one is used to immobilize smaller animals while hunting. The other, tetrodotoxin, is primarily used for defense. This is the same venom found in pufferfish. It can be lethal to humans and there is no known antidote.
4. Atlantic White-Spotted Octopus
- Latin name: Callistoctopus macropus
- Habitat: Different populations can be found in the Mediterranean Sea, the Caribbean Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean
- Size: Body is about 8″ long; length with arms is up to 59″
- Diet: Various small reef organisms that live close to corals
- Colorful feature: This octopus is usually a rusty brick red in color. Its body is patterned with neat lines of white spots. If it becomes threatened, this octopus will darken its color to a much more intense red, possibly to intimidate predators.
This octopus has several different common names. You might hear it called the grass scuttle or the grass octopus as well. These may sound like unusual names for a sea creature, but the Atlantic white-spotted octopus can often be found in underwater seagrass meadows.
5. Two-Toned Pygmy Squid
- Latin name: Ideosepius pygmaeus
- Habitat: Shallow waters of the Indo-Pacific
- Size: Body length up to about 0.8″ long
- Diet: Small shrimp and crustaceans
- Colorful feature: This squid might be small, but it’s not lacking in color! The two-toned pygmy squid is primarily shimmering gold or yellow. It also has hints of darker coloring, and some even have a slight bluish hue on the underside.
As you likely gathered from the name, this is one of the smallest species on the list. When two-toned pygmy squid eggs hatch, the hatchlings weigh 0.00033 grams each. This species has a unique means of camouflage if it needs to hide from a predator. It has a glue-producing gland on the back that allows it to cover itself in sand. It also can change its color to better blend in with its surroundings.
6. Mimic Octopus
- Latin name: Thaumoctopus mimicus
- Habitat: Shallow waters throughout the Indo-Pacific
- Size: Up to about 2 feet long, including arms
- Diet: Largely small fish and crustaceans
- Colorful feature: The mimic octopus typically has a pattern of light and dark banding. However, it can change its coloring somewhat as it mimics different species.
You might wonder how this octopus came to get its name. It’s able to mimic a range of other sea creatures to protect itself. The mimic octopus frequently impersonates the spiny lion fish, the sea snake, and even jellyfish. It also can mimic other species when hunting. For instance, the mimic octopus can pretend to be a crab wanting to mate. When an actual crab shows interest, the octopus can then eat it.
7. Common European Squid
- Latin name: Loligo vulgaris
- Habitat: Waters near the coast of the North Sea down to Africa’s west coast
- Size: Body length up to about 16″
- Diet: Various fish and crustaceans, though it often cannibalizes
- Colorful feature: This squid is shinier than it is bright. Some individuals are silvery-gray or pearlescent. Others are more of a shining rosy red.
This species is one of the most common types of squid caught and sold commercially (as well as recreationally fished). In the Adriatic Sea alone, approximately 1,000 to 1,500 tons are caught per year! Squid is commonly fried, but it can be incorporated into a range of dishes in Europe. One is an Italian dish called seppie in umido. Squid is marinated with various vegetables and tomato paste and seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, rosemary, and other spices. It’s usually served over polenta.
8. California Two-Spot Octopus
- Latin name: Octopus bimaculoides
- Habitat: Various parts of the Pacific Ocean, especially the shores of California
- Size: Body length with arms ranges from 7″ to 23″
- Diet: Small crustaceans and shrimp
- Colorful feature: This octopus is especially good at changing colors to match its environment; it is often grayish or yellowish. However, its most colorful feature is the presence of two blue eyespots on either side of the head.
This octopus is often simply called a “bimac” after its scientific name. The scientific name itself references the large eyespots located under the octopus’s actual eyes. The eyespots are a beautifully intense iridescent blue. Notably, this species is not long-lived at all, as both males and females only live about one to two years.
9. White-Eyed Bobtail Squid
- Latin name: Sepiadarium kochi
- Habitat: Tropical waters in both the Indo-Malayan region and the Indo-Pacific
- Size: Body length up to about 1.18″
- Diet: Small shrimp and crustaceans
- Colorful feature: Like other bobtail squid on the list, this one is especially bright. And like other squid species, it has an iridescent glow, and its color is somewhat changeable. Sometimes, it appears grayish-gold like the individual in the picture. At other points in time, it’s closer to being metallic mango.
This tiny squid is another on the list with multiple common names. You might sometimes hear it called the tropical squid or the Koch’s bottletail squid. The common name “white-eyed bobtail squid” refers to its pearly white eyelids. When it closes its eyes, the squid looks like its eyes themselves are white.
10. Star-Sucker Pygmy Octopus
- Latin name: Octopus wolfi
- Habitat: Warm waters in the western Pacific
- Size: Less than 1″ long
- Diet: Tiny crustaceans and other ocean organisms
- Colorful feature: Like other species, this one varies somewhat in color. However, many individuals are some shade of reddish or pink. The one in the picture is an especially rich red.
This tiny creature has the distinction of being the smallest octopus in the world. And thanks to its small size, it is sometimes kept as a pet. But if you do want a pet octopus, you’ll need to make sure the aquarium is especially secure. Octopuses are remarkable escape artists. That fact combined with the small size of this species means that the star-sucker pygmy octopus can easily sneak its way out of an unsecured aquarium.
11. Dwarf Bobtail Squid
- Latin name: Sepiola rondeleti
- Habitat: Much of the northeastern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea
- Size: Body length up to about 2.4″
- Diet: Small shrimp and crustaceans
- Colorful feature: As you can see in the photo, this unique little squid has truly spectacular iridescence. And while that shine is natural, it doesn’t completely come from the squid itself. This species and other bobtail squid host bioluminescent bacteria that create brilliant, sparkling color.
All bobtail squid are relatively small, but this one is especially so. Males and females are somewhat easier to tell apart than in other species as well: females are larger with proportionally smaller fins. Both have neatly rounded bodies that have led them to sometimes being called “dumpling squid” or “stubby squid.” Like other types of bobtail squid, this species is a master of camouflage. It can change color, glue sand to its back, or even burrow into the sandy ocean floor if it sees a predator or otherwise feels threatened.
12. Flapjack Octopus
- Latin name: Opisthoteuthis californiana
- Habitat: Warm parts of the Pacific, especially near California and Japan
- Size: Body length up to about 8″
- Diet: Small fish, worms, and crustaceans
- Colorful feature: Like many octopus species, the flapjack octopus varies somewhat in color. It’s usually pinkish or reddish, and some individuals have greater color saturation than others.
When you see a flapjack octopus, you can tell instantly where the name comes from! These small creatures have jelly-like bodies that look a lot like pancakes when they are at rest. They look especially pancake-like when hunting prey. They can flatten their bodies so they look non-threatening as they search for prey. When they do find something to eat, they pounce and kill it with a bite.
13. Market Squid
- Latin name: Doryteuthis opalescens
- Habitat: Parts of the eastern Pacific Ocean ranging from Alaska to Baja California
- Size: Body length up to about 7.5″; total length up to 11″
- Diet: Largely mollusks, shrimp, crabs, fish, and even members of its own species
- Colorful feature: The market squid is a lot prettier than its common name would have you believe! Its color is better described by its other common name, the opalescent inshore squid. It is largely a pearl-like white with a multicolored, opalescent luster. However, when scared or excited, it will change to red or brown.
The market squid is one of the world’s most commercially-fished squid species. It’s especially popular in Southern California, an area responsible for 90% of market squid caught each year. Even though it is heavily fished and has cannibalistic tendencies, this squid species still has a very stable population.
14. Lilliput Longarm Octopus
- Latin name: Macrotritopus defilippi
- Habitat: Shallow areas of the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea
- Size: Body length up to about 3.5″
- Diet: Small shrimp, crustaceans, and other small marine animals
- Colorful feature: One of the most fascinating things about this octopus species is its ability to change color to match its surroundings. When it is primarily on sand, it will be a yellowish-brown color. When it lives in more gravelly areas, it will be covered in larger splotches and sometimes barring.
The lilliput longarm octopus has an impressive ability to camouflage itself in terms of coloration. But it’s also quite skilled at hiding when needed. Like some other octopus species, it is able to bury itself in the sand with its eyes exposed. But it’s able to do this in such a way that it leaves no other stirred-up sand or visual clues.
15. Glitter Squid
- Latin name: Sepioteuthis lessoniana
- Habitat: Relatively close to the shoreline in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific Ocean
- Size: Body length up to about 15″
- Diet: Largely fish, prawns, and other crustaceans
- Colorful feature: The upperparts of this species are densely covered in chromatophores, or cells that allow the squid to change color at will. It also has iridiphores, or cells that will produce a metallic, iridescent glow when engaged. In terms of base coloration, these squid can be white, yellow, brownish pink, or brownish violet.
The glitter squid is also often called the bigfin reef squid. This is an apt name, as the species has much bigger fins than most species. The fins are oval and extend down most of the body. This species is closely related to (and looks a lot like) the Caribbean reef squid that’s also on the list!
16. Common Octopus
- Latin name: Octopus vulgaris
- Habitat: Various seas and oceans throughout the world; it’s a very cosmopolitan species
- Size: Body length up to 10″; arms up to 3.3 feet
- Diet: Largely mollusks, crayfish, and crabs, although it will eat most things it can catch
- Colorful feature: This octopus is one of the species that is able to change color to better blend in with its surroundings. That means that its color is sometimes dull. It often turns bright brick red. But as you can see in the picture, it sometimes turns various gradations of blue!
The common octopus has an ordinary-sounding name, but it has extraordinary intelligence; it is one of the most intelligent octopus species and also one of the most studied. It was featured in a 2020 documentary called My Octopus Teacher as well. This award-winning film chronicles one filmmaker’s relationship with a wild common octopus.
17. Japanese Flying Squid
- Latin name: Todarodes pacificus
- Habitat: Much of the northern Pacific Ocean
- Size: Body length up to about 20″
- Diet: Mostly plankton and fish, although it will cannibalize in close quarters
- Colorful feature: As you can see in the picture, many of these squid have beautifully complex coloring. Their base colors are often light, but they are frequently marked with hints of yellow, reddish brown, and sometimes other colors.
You’ve heard of flying fish, but have you heard of flying squid? These creatures are genuinely impressive flyers. Using jet propulsion, they are able to fly up to 30 meters at a time over the ocean surface as they travel. Experts think they likely do this to conserve energy, avoid predators, or both.
18. Giant Pacific Octopus
- Latin name: Enteroctopus dofleini
- Habitat: Largely coastal parts of the northern Pacific Ocean
- Size: Usually about 10 feet long with arms
- Diet: Shrimp, fish, squid, bivalves, and a range of other ocean species
- Colorful feature: These big cephalopods are usually colored somewhere between rosy pinkish-red and reddish brown. Their white suckers offer a pleasing contrast!
Many octopuses on this list prefer tropical water. But this one does quite well in colder regions. The “giant” in the name is especially accurate, as this creature can grow to almost Kraken-like proportions. Adults usually weigh about 33 pounds, but the official world record (at least for a captured one) is 300 pounds. One catalog published by the UN has listed the octopus’s size as being 396 pounds, and there’s a report of one 600-pound individual, too!
19. Giant Squid
- Latin name: Architeuthis dux
- Habitat: Deep areas of the ocean across much of the world
- Size: Up to 43 feet long including arms; body length is usually about 6 feet
- Diet: Largely other types of squid and deep-sea fish
- Colorful feature: Like most other species of squid, this one can change color as needed. Often, it is iridescent bluish gray. However, depending on what it needs to communicate (or where it needs to camouflage) it can change to red or a host of other colors.
Here’s another of the giant marine creatures on our list. Most individual giant squids grow to a maximum of 6 feet long, but some individuals reach the tanker-like proportions mentioned above. They are striking, but unfortunately, their deep-water habitat makes observing them pretty difficult.
20. Paper Nautilus
- Latin name: Argonauta argo
- Habitat: Tropical and subtropical seas and oceans across the world; this is a very cosmopolitan species
- Size: Up to about 4″ long
- Diet: Mostly various types of mollusks
- Colorful feature: This unique octopus species is often reddish in color with a bit of a blue gloss on some of the arms. But its papery, whitish eggcase makes it look especially interesting. The eggcase curls around the octopus like the shell of a nautilus.
If you’re familiar with the nautilus, you’ll understand where this interesting creature’s name comes from. Notably, if you see this creature without its shell, it looks like a regular octopus. Though common names for this octopus usually focus on its shell, the Chinese common name offers an interesting comparison: this name translates to “white sea-horse’s nest.”
21. Caribbean Reef Squid
- Latin name: Sepioteuthis sepioidea
- Habitat: Throughout the Caribbean Sea and in shallow areas off the coast of Florida
- Size: Body length is about 8″
- Diet: Largely small fish, mollusks, and small crustaceans
- Colorful feature: The Caribbean reef squid is easily one of the most colorful creatures on the list. Its body has a pearly white base color, but this squid can also turn blue, orange, yellowish, reddish, or a bright and memorable mixture of these colors.
These colorful, torpedo-shaped squids are especially good at using changes in color to communicate. They also can change patterns and textures to better communicate with each other too. The Caribbean reef squid can even “talk” to two squids at once. It can communicate one message to a squid on its right and another message to a squid on its left!
22. Wunderpus Octopus
- Latin name: Wunderpus photogenicus
- Habitat: Shallow waters in much of Southeast Asia
- Size: Body length up to about 1.4″; length with arms up to about 9″
- Diet: Mostly smaller fish and crustaceans
- Colorful feature: This remarkably beautiful octopus is very easy to confuse with the closely-related mimic octopus. Its base pattern is a rich red-brown. It’s covered in clearly defined white spots and bands, and its color pattern is unique to every individual.
This stunning octopus is important to people for a number of reasons. It is a major draw for marine photographers and even recreational divers hoping to catch a glimpse of it. The wunderpus is also exciting for home aquarium owners. Though it’s rare and very expensive, this octopus makes a beautiful addition to saltwater aquariums.
23. Arrow Squid
- Latin name: Doryteuthis plei
- Habitat: Near the coast of the Atlantic Ocean from Argentina to North Carolina
- Size: Body length up to about 13″
- Diet: Various small crustaceans and other ocean organisms
- Colorful feature: These bright squids are usually reddish-orange. But like other squid species, they have many chromatophores, or color-changing cells. That way, they can alter their coloration somewhat to camouflage as needed.
Lots of squid species look arrow-like, but this one especially does. And like some other species on the list, it is abundant enough to be a dietary staple in parts of its native range. In Brazil alone, around 763 metric tons are caught in a year. The arrow squid has a good number of natural predators. But despite that fact, its population remains large and stable.
24. East Pacific Red Octopus
- Latin name: Octopus rubescens
- Habitat: Shallow water along much of the Pacific Coast of the United States
- Size: Body length is about 4″; arm length is up to about 16″
- Diet: Various types of marine life including crabs, gastropods, barnacles, and bivalves
- Colorful feature: You might describe this octopus as being reddish brown, although it is closer to red than a lot of reddish-brown species. It also has a unique, web-like white pattern across the body that makes it look a bit like granite.
The name of this octopus might be a little confusing, as there are lots of octopus species out there called the “red octopus.” For that reason, many prefer the other common name, “ruby octopus.” It’s a skilled predator with an interesting way of devouring shelled prey: it is able to drill a hole in the shell and inject venom that makes the shell easier to pry open.
25. European Flying Squid
- Latin name: Todarodes sagittatus
- Habitat: Much of the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean
- Size: Body length usually up to about 13″
- Diet: Mostly crustaceans, fish, and other cephalopods (squids, octopuses, and related species)
- Colorful feature: Generally speaking, the European flying squid is a purplish shade. However, as you can see in the picture, some individual squids have a bright pattern of stripes along the sides. Some are also a pretty, splashy pattern of brownish purple on a whitish base color.
Like some other flying squid species, this one is sometimes caught for food. It’s less popular than the market squid and similar species, but it is fished and eaten fairly frequently in southern Italy. Because it has several separate populations, the European flying squid is not considered to be at risk of endangerment or extinction.
26. Mosaic Octopus
- Latin name: Abdopus abaculus
- Habitat: Warm waters of the western Pacific, especially in Indonesia
- Size: Up to about 7″ in total length
- Diet: Various types of crustaceans and other smallish marine life
- Colorful feature: The name “mosaic octopus” conjures up images of an intricately patterned sea creature, and this octopus does not disappoint. It is usually some mixture of purplish red and bold yellow like the octopus in the picture. However, when it needs to camouflage, it may make its colors duller.
Even though the mosaic octopus is a beautiful and interesting-looking species, there has been relatively little research done on it. As a result, it is largely a mystery. But it does have a form of camouflage that many other octopus species don’t have: its body is covered in spiky bumps to help it camouflage against coral reefs and rocky ocean bottoms.
27. Poison Ocellate Octopus
- Latin name: Amphioctopus siamensis
- Habitat: Warm waters of the western Pacific Ocean, particularly around Indonesia
- Size: Up to about 10″ in total length
- Diet: Various small marine animals
- Colorful feature: Though not as colorful as the more famous greater blue-ringed octopus, the venomous poison ocellate octopus uses a similar strategy to warn potential predators. It has two eye-like spots beneath its actual eyes that glow blue when it is threatened. The rest of its body is colorful, too. As you can see in the picture, it is usually mottled with white, dark purplish red, and yellow-orange.
You might sometimes hear this small yet dangerous sea creature referred to as the Mototi octopus. If you happen to see one when diving, be careful to avoid being bitten! Fortunately, its bright blue rings of warning make it easy to identify.
28. Southern Bobtail Squid
- Latin name: Euprymna tasmanica
- Habitat: Shallow waters near parts of the Australian coast
- Size: Body length up to about 1.8″; up to about 2.8″ total length
- Diet: Various small marine animals, especially crustaceans
- Colorful feature: The southern bobtail squid is one of the most magnificent bobtails. It is able to change its color somewhat. But usually, it is a glimmering iridescent yellow-green with brownish flecks.
This unique little squid has a few useful adaptations to protect itself from predators. One is a “light organ” containing bioluminescent bacteria. These bacteria create a light that eliminates the squid’s silhouette, making it harder for predators to spot. It also has the ability to coat itself in sand or sediment in order to better camouflage.
29. Algae Octopus
- Latin name: Abdopus aculeatus
- Habitat: Beaches in Indonesia, the Philippines, and northern Australia
- Size: Body length up to about 3″; arm length up to about 10″
- Diet: Mostly small crustaceans found in tide pools
- Colorful feature: The algae octopus isn’t the absolute most colorful creature on the list. However, it does have an interesting means of camouflage. When at rest, it’s able to make itself look like a gastropod shell that has been covered in algae.
The algae octopus is one of the most unique creatures on our list. It is considered to be the only land octopus because it walks to different tide pools in search of crustaceans to hunt. Many species of octopus are capable of walking on land, but they do so very occasionally.
30. Sandbird Octopus
- Latin name: Octopus aegina
- Habitat: Sandy ocean bottoms across much of the Indo-West Pacific
- Size: Up to about 12″ total length
- Diet: Various types of crustaceans and other marine animals
- Colorful feature: This pretty octopus usually has an intricately mottled coloration that includes maroon, yellowish, and white. This pattern helps it to camouflage against ocean bottoms covered with various types of marine debris.
The sandbird octopus is another you don’t hear a whole lot about. Though it isn’t terribly big, it can be aggressive and won’t hesitate to defend its burrows. It is one of the octopus varieties sometimes fished and eaten, especially in East Africa.
31. Bumblebee Octopus
- Latin name: Octopus hummelincki
- Habitat: Mostly coral reefs in the western Atlantic
- Size: Up to about 10″ total length
- Diet: Mostly marine crustaceans and other reef animals
- Colorful feature: Like many species, the bumblebee octopus can change its color to camouflage in a variety of situations. Sometimes, it appears to have yellowish and dark banding like a bumblebee. At other times, it darkens and flattens itself. But its telltale bluish eyespots located beneath the eyes make it relatively easy within its native range.
The bumblebee octopus is among the masters of camouflage on the list, as it can change its shape, color, and texture. It often makes itself look like the frogfish (also called the anglerfish), a fish that is able to camouflage itself to hide within seaweed.
32. Glass Octopus
- Latin name: Vitreledonella richardi
- Habitat: Deep parts of tropical and subtropical oceans across much of the world
- Size: Body length up to about 4.3″; total length up to about 18″
- Diet: Various types of deep-sea fish and other deep-sea animals
- Colorful feature: The glass octopus’s color is remarkable largely because it is nearly colorless. As you can see in the picture, its suckers are often noticeable and can add an unexpected shock of color.
To the untrained eye, the glass octopus might look like a jellyfish at first glance! After all, its almost completely clear body is somewhat gelatinous. It’s one of the most fascinating creatures on the list. But unfortunately, it takes some doing to see one in person, as you would need to go on a deep-sea dive, a feat that takes some training!
33. Maori Octopus
- Latin name: Macroctopus maorum
- Habitat: Waters around New Zealand and Australia
- Size: Body length up to about 6 feet long; armspan around 10 feet
- Diet: Mostly crustaceans and fish
- Colorful feature: As you can see in the picture, this octopus often has a lovely, stone-like pattern of marbling. But its eyes are especially lovely; they are an intense shade of gold.
This striking sea creature is best admired from afar. It’s one of the largest species of octopus, but it’s not a gentle giant. In fact, it’s highly aggressive. Aggression comes out with special intensity when a female is guarding her eggs. The Maori octopus has a unique means of camouflage; it forms something called a “midden” in front of the entrance to its burrow. The midden is a pile of rocks, bones, and shells designed to conceal the entrance.
34. Curled Octopus
- Latin name: Eledone cirrhosa
- Habitat: Waters somewhat near the coast in much of the northeastern Atlantic Ocean
- Size: About 20″ total length
- Diet: Mostly large marine crustaceans
- Colorful feature: The distinctive curled octopus is usually a reddish-orange color. However, its curled arms reveal whitish undersides that form a very pleasing contrast with the warm coloring of the rest of the body.
As you may have guessed, this octopus gets its common name from the fact that it almost always keeps its arms curled up. Like many crustacean-eating octopuses, it has a powerful beak that lets it get past the shell. The curled octopus uses its beak to effectively drill through the shell and access the meat of the animal.
35. Gloomy Octopus
- Latin name: Octopus tetricus
- Habitat: Subtropical waters surrounding Australia and New Zealand
- Size: Arm span reaches about 6.5 feet
- Diet: Mostly various types of mollusks and crustaceans
- Colorful feature: When it comes to coloring, the gloomy octopus is another study in contrast. Its body is usually gray or brown, as it commonly camouflages itself as seaweed. However, the undersides of its arms are a dramatic reddish color that easily stands out!
The gloomy octopus doesn’t have a very exciting name, but it’s been partially responsible for some exciting advancements in research. Through observing gloomy octopuses, scientists have been able to determine the meaning of some kinds of signaling behavior. In research and in general, you might hear the gloomy octopus referred to by different names: it is also sometimes called the common Sydney octopus or just the Sydney octopus.
36. Lesser Bobtail Squid
- Latin name: Semirossia tenera
- Habitat: Shallow waters down the eastern coast of North America
- Size: Body length up to about 2″
- Diet: Various small marine animals
- Colorful feature: Just like other species of bobtail squid, this one is pretty good at changing colors. But often, it’s a lovely metallic copper like the squid in the picture.
As you’ve seen so far, bobtail squids are already tiny. But this one is especially so. It can withstand a remarkable range of different habitats, as it can be found from Maine to the Caribbean. More recently, it has appeared along the coast of Brazil and some other South American countries.
37. Long-Arm Octopus
- Latin name: Octopus minor
- Habitat: Waters off the coast of Japan, Korea, and eastern China
- Size: Body length up to about 7″; arm length up to about 25″
- Diet: Mostly fish, mollusks, and crustaceans
- Colorful feature: Though this octopus changes color like many on the list, it tends more toward paler colors. As you can see in the picture, it sometimes has intricate white and tan mottling to mimic the ocean floor. Sometimes, it makes itself so pale it almost looks white.
This unique creature is sometimes also called the Korean common octopus. True to its name, it does have arms that are especially long in terms of proportions. The long-arm octopus is one of the species that has major commercial importance. Korea has a $35 million octopus industry and this species is a major contributor. It can be served raw or cooked.
38. Longfin Squid
- Latin name: Doryteuthis pealeii
- Habitat: Many parts of the northern Atlantic Ocean from Newfoundland to Venezuela
- Size: Body length up to about 20″
- Diet: Mostly fish and sometimes other squid
- Colorful feature: Thanks to its chromatophores, this squid is able to manipulate its color along the red spectrum. It can appear to be pale rosy pink, rich red, or virtually anywhere in between.
The longfin squid isn’t one of the species commonly caught for food. However, it does have another important use. It has been used extensively in neuroscience research thanks to its large axons, or nerve fibers. These large fibers make it much easier to see what’s going on within the nerve. The longfin squid was even used in some of the very first axon studies conducted by Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley!
39. Octopus oliveri
- Latin name: Octopus oliveri
- Habitat: Reefs and rocky coasts in Japan, Hawaii, and nearby areas
- Size: Up to about 10″ total length
- Diet: Various smallish marine animals
- Colorful feature: The octopus in the picture might look a little sinister. But when you take a closer look, you see that it actually has fairly complete patterning and banding. You can also see how similar the octopus’s colors are to the surrounding rock!
This octopus is one that isn’t talked about as much as some of the others on the list. It doesn’t really have a common name, and it’s not commonly used by humans for food, research, etc. Still, it’s yet another species whose camouflage abilities are sure to impress you!
40. East Asian Common Octopus
- Latin name: Octopus sinensis
- Habitat: Shallowish waters off the coast of China, Japan, and Korea
- Size: Body length up to 10″; arms up to about 3 feet
- Diet: Primarily mollusks and crustaceans
- Colorful feature: Like the common octopus mentioned above, the East Asian common octopus can dramatically change its coloring. One of the most striking colors is the soft, powdery blue in the picture. As you can see, it contrasts beautifully with this creature’s reddish underlimbs and intense yellow eyes.
This octopus looks so much like the regular common octopus that it was thought to be part of the same species until 2017! It is an important food source in China, so overfishing is a bit of a concern. That being said, in recent years, the total number of octopuses caught has been declining.
41. Hummingbird Bobtail Squid
- Latin name: Euprymna berryi
- Habitat: Tropical waters of the central Indo-Pacific
- Size: Up to about 2″ total length
- Diet: Various small marine animals
- Colorful feature: This little bobtail squid has a somewhat different coloration than other bobtail squid. It has a bluish-purple, iridescent coloration reminiscent of that of a hummingbird.
This tiny squid is primarily nocturnal, so if you go for a dive searching for it during the day, you aren’t likely to see it! In daylight hours, it tends to bury itself in the sand or other substrate. When it hunts at night, it is able to use its light-emitting organ as a spotlight for prey.
42. Robsonella fontaniana
- Latin name: Robsonella fontaniana
- Habitat: Waters off the coast of Chile
- Size: Body length up to about 2″
- Diet: Small marine organisms like crustaceans
- Colorful feature: This tiny octopus is usually a rich wine red like the octopus in the photo. As you can see, the color has an ombre-like effect, becoming paler toward the end of the arms. And just like many other octopus species, this one has light-colored underparts lined with small suckers.
At first glance, little Robsonella fontaniana looks like a scale model of a larger octopus. It is closely related to Robsonella huttoni, the only other member of its genus. Often, the species can be told apart only from the shape of one of the teeth.
43. Humboldt Squid
- Latin name: Dosidicus gigas
- Habitat: Many parts of the eastern Pacific Ocean
- Size: Body length up to about 5 feet
- Diet: Mostly fish, crustaceans, and other cephalopods
- Colorful feature: The Humboldt squid is often a pretty white in color. However, its chromatophores have the ability to change the skin color quickly from white to red and back again.
The impressively-sized squid is the most popular squid among hunters and sport fishers. It can be eaten, although it is mostly popular in Europe. The Humboldt squid has been nicknamed the diablo rojo, or red devil, thanks to its reported aggression toward humans and its ability to turn its skin red.
44. Hairy Octopus
- Latin name: Not yet named
- Habitat: Primarily in the Lembeh Strait in Indonesia
- Size: Total length up to about 2″
- Diet: Mostly small marine animals
- Colorful feature: Like many octopus species, the hairy octopus is great at changing its coloration! It is often an intense ruby red, but it also can turn white or brown to camouflage as needed.
Octopuses of course do not have hair, but the cute hairy octopus is covered in hair-like filaments. When it changes to greenish brown or a similar color, the “hairs” help it to do a convincing impression of algae in order to camouflage itself.
45. Neon Flying Squid
- Latin name: Ommastrephes bartramii
- Habitat: Various temperate and subtropical oceans around the world
- Size: Body length up to about 2 feet
- Diet: Small fish and other types of squid
- Colorful feature: Though this squid is generally red, some specimens like the one in the picture are more of a golden orange with silver markings. The neon flying squid is capable of bioluminescence, making it one of the prettier squids on the list.
This somewhat large and often colorful squid is a sight to behold when it coasts above the water! And remarkably, experts can’t tell exactly what processes are used to keep the fish in the air. The neon flying squid’s “flight” is often more prolonged than the simple jet propulsion flight of other flying squid.
46. Big Blue Octopus
- Latin name: Octopus cyanea
- Habitat: Mostly coral reefs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans
- Size: Body length up to about 6″; total length up to about 31″
- Diet: Mostly fish, shrimp, crabs, and mollusks
- Colorful feature: Thanks to its color-changing abilities, the big blue octopus is not always blue. Sometimes, it is able to alter its pattern to match its surroundings like the octopus in the photo.
The big blue octopus can consciously change its texture, color, and pattern. It’s one of the best chameleons in the octopus world, and one researcher even reported seeing it alter its appearance 1,000 times over the course of 7 hours!
47. Firefly Squid
- Latin name: Watasenia scintillans
- Habitat: Waters off of the coast of Japan
- Size: Total length up to about 3″
- Diet: Various smaller marine organisms
- Colorful feature: True to the name, this tiny, bioluminescent squid gives off light similar to that of a firefly!
This tiny and remarkable squid has one of the smaller ranges on the list. And despite its small size, it’s made quite an impact on many people. When these squids gather to spawn, they give off enough blue bioluminescence to draw tourists!
48. Starry Night Octopus
- Latin name: Callistoctopus luteus
- Habitat: Mostly reefs throughout the Indo-West Pacific Oceans
- Size: Total length about 30″
- Diet: Mostly crabs, shrimp, and bivalves
- Colorful feature: As the name suggests, this orangish octopus is decorated with a swirling pattern of white spots that resemble a starry night.
This striking octopus is a close relative of the Atlantic white-spotted octopus, and both of these species look relatively similar to other members of the genus. While this particular species isn’t always harvested for food, a few other members of the genus are.
49. Caribbean Reef Octopus
- Latin name: Octopus briareus
- Habitat: Reefs in the Caribbean
- Size: Body length up to about 24″
- Diet: Mostly fish, shrimp, crabs, and similar marine animals
- Colorful feature: This is one of the more colorful species on the list. It can turn from green to blue to bright red.
This species can be tough to identify because it changes color so drastically. The coloring on the octopus in the picture is one of the reef octopus’s more stunning color combinations: powdery blue mixed with chocolate brown.
50. Southern Blue-Ringed Octopus
- Latin name: Hapalochlaena maculosa
- Habitat: Mostly tidal pools along Australia’s southern coast
- Size: Total length up to about 8″
- Diet: Mostly crabs, shrimp, lobsters, and fish
- Colorful feature: This bright octopus usually has a yellowish base color. If frightened or agitated, it can illuminate the blue rings along its body as a warning.
Like other blue-ringed octopus species, this one is highly venomous. And while it may seem worrisome that no antivenom exists, you might find it reassuring to know there have been no reported instances of unprovoked aggression toward humans. These octopuses primarily use their venom for hunting and defense.
51. Butterfly Bobtail Squid
- Latin name: Sepiola birostrata
- Habitat: Mostly subtropical waters of the western Pacific
- Size: Total length around 1″
- Diet: Various small marine animals
- Colorful feature: Last on the list is the pretty butterfly bobtail. This squid species has striking, often orangish iridescence.
Last on the list is the tiny yet stunning butterfly bobtail, another luminescent species of squid. As you can see in the picture, the movement of its fins does make it look like a tiny butterfly coursing through the sea!
Nature’s Most Colorful Octopuses and Squids
Some of these bright octopuses and squids can be found in aquariums, some live in coral reefs, and some live deep beneath the surface of the ocean. But whether you see them in photos or in person, these brilliant creatures are sure to make your day!