Swimming With Octopuses: Octopus Locomotion

by fanfreluche

An interesting look at octopuses locomotion and their jet propulsion ability

How do Octopuses Move?

Octopuses Swim, Walk and...Disappear

The octopus is one of the most interesting animals in the ocean and jet propulsion is only one of the many amazing things that they can do. They may not be the fastest animals alive, but their swimming ability is good enough to prevent them from becoming dinner for another creature. Besides, here’s betting that an octopus would totally beat you in a swimming race!

Octopuses Locomotion: the Jet Propulsion

Jet propulsion is one of the most unusual ways for an animal to move around, but octopuses don’t care! Though they might not be as fast as swordfish, as intimidating as killer whales, or as graceful as penguins, octopuses are still amazing swimmers. Like other cephalopods (animals with large heads and tentacles like squids), they can reach their fastest speeds by using jet propulsion. Speeding through the ocean this way an octopus can reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.

Have you ever untied the knot of an inflated balloon and let go? That is kind of what jet propulsion is like. The stored air that has been built up shoots through the outside air and propels the balloon. The big difference is an octopus can steer, but the balloon can’t!

An octopus’s head, called a mantle, can suck in and store water like a balloon stores air. All of the openings to the mantle are closed off and the stored water quickly increases in pressure. When the octopus is ready to jet away, the muscles of the mantle squeeze the water out through a funnel on the underside of the animal. The stream of water shooting out of the animal’s underside has enough force to propel it through the ocean at amazing speeds! The octopus isn’t just out for a ride though. They can steer to where they want to go by adjusting the direction that the funnel is faced.

When an octopus is zooming through the water by jet propulsion or swimming regularly their head will always be in the lead. An octopus swims headfirst with their long tentacles trailing behind.

See an Octopus Using Jet Propulsion to Escape

Warning: Scary octopus Video

An Octopus is Walking disguised as an Algae

Warning: Funny Octopus Video

Even though jet propulsion is the fastest way for an octopus to get around, they only save it for dangerous situations. Mainly, you see octopuses walking around the ocean floor on their eight sucker-covered legs. They aren’t very fast walkers, but a variety of other defense mechanisms help provide them protection from predators. One of the most unusual (and useful) of their defenses is their ability to change the color and texture of their bodies to blend in with rocks and plants. Some species are so good at this that they can even walk around on two arms while remaining camouflaged as a rock or plant.

Octopus: The Ocean's Intelligent Invertebrate

A must read book about octopuses
Octopus: The Ocean's Intelligent Invertebrate

240 pages, 38 color photos. An serious overview of the many aspects of octopus intelligence. scientific yet easy to read. If you want to learn more about the fascinating octopuses, this book delivers.

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Book for kids: Octopus and Squids

Octopus and Squid (Undersea Encounters)

Discover the world of octopuses and squids, facts about them as well as photos. Ages 8 and up, 48 pages

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Beautiful: Watch this Octopus swimming and Walking Around

My Animals and Nature Blog

Fabulous Nature's Wonders: my blog about nature and animals

Updated: 11/08/2015, fanfreluche
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Do you love octopuses as much as I do? Aren't they fascinating creatures?

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marciag on 06/12/2013

These are such fun photos, i love looking at them. And the more i look, the less i'm inclined to actually eat them next time at a taverna here...

Tolovaj on 05/27/2013

Yes, they are. They are pretty smart too. I have read their intelligence can be compared to dogs'. But I suppose they can perform totally different set of tricks:)

Mladen on 02/28/2012

Amazing animals! Your article is informative and well presented. Thank you for sharing this with us!

kajohu on 02/12/2012

This is fascinating! I had no idea that octopuses could change their color and texture to blend in with their surroundings, or that they could walk on the ocean floor!

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