Lesser Octopus

Lesser Octopus

  • Scientific name: Eledone cirrhosa
  • Also known as: Curled Octopus, Northern Octopus, Horned Octopus
  • Size: Mantle can be up to 50cm in length.
  • Distribution: Found all around the waters of the British Isles, and throughout European waters, particularly the Mediterranean, and also found off the northern coast of Africa.

The lesser octopus can be found in fairly shallow water, but unlike the common octopus they will happily live in very deep water, down to several hundred metres. Although they look similar to the common octopus the mantle is bigger, and in a fully grown adult and the arms are thinner and only have a single row of suckers. The default colour of the lesser octopus is generally a red to orange, although they also have the same colour changing ability as the common octopus, and make use of this when threatened by a predator. The lesser octopus feeds on the same type of crustaceans and shellfish as the common octopus and is seen as just as intelligent.

This species is thought to be increasing in number, especially in the North Sea, probably as a result of their natural predators such as cod being reduced in number. This has led to problems for commercial crab fishermen as rising octopus numbers see a rise in raids on crab and lobster pots. When resting on the seabed this species of octopus often curls its legs underneath the mantle, leading to the alternative name of curled octopus. The lesser octopus is also edible. Generally, the common octopus is seen as the more valuable commercial catch. However, many commercial vessels simply class all octopus as a single species and catches of the common and lesser octopus are difficult to differentiate. Numbers of this species are thought to be relatively healthy and the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) classes this species as one of Least Concern on a global basis.

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