Say Hello to the Dumbo

Pearl_filmNearly everyone knows the octopus from Finding Nemo that says “you guys made me ink.” Well, I always just thought of that octopus as any other one I’d seen before, until now that is. A day or two ago, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw a video of a “shy” Dumbo Octopus, and I immediately got curious. Dumbo Octopus? What is that? Well, not only is it the same type of octopus as the one off of Finding Nemo, but it also has some pretty unique characteristics as well. Some of you may already know about this type of octopus, but if you’re like me and didn’t, then you might want to keep reading.

There actually isn’t much known about Grimpoteuthis spp, but what we do know is quite fascinating. It is one of the seventeen species of the Umbrella Octopus class, but dubbed The Dumbo Octopus because of the way its “ear-like” fins protrude from its body, giving it a Walt Disney’s Dumbo the Elephant kind of look. One of the rarest kinds of octopi in the ocean, these little guys live extremely close to the seafloor in places like New Zealand, Australia, Monterey Bay, California; Oregon, the Philippines, and Papua, New Guinea, in waters as deep as 3,000 to 4,000 meters or 9,800 to 13,000 feet with some living even deeper. Like most creatures that live so close to the seafloor, the Dumbo Octopus can flush the top layer of its skin which simply means they can make it translucent. However, this isn’t even one of the most interesting things about it.

Some of the unique features of the Dumbo Octopus that are unlike any other of its kind are its mouth, methods of mobilization, and reproductive habits. The mouth of the octopus is bizarre. It has an opening similar to that of a mollusc which “allows it to swallow prey whole.” This 4570078_f520spares it from having to “tear and grind” the tiny crustaceans, bivalves, and worms it calls prey
and dinner. As for the way it moves, the Dumbo has a special system. It not only has learned to propel itself away from predators by “shooting water through [its] funnel,” but it also uses its distinct shape as well. Since this octopus is an Umbrella, it has webbing between its tentacles which it uses to its advantage. The Dumbo’s eyes are on the side of its body because it is easy prey for “sharks killer whales, tuna, cephalopods, and predatory animals,” so by expanding and contracting the tentacle webbing as well as by moving its “ear-like fins,” the Dumbo Octopus has a pretty good chance of escaping its attackers.

Perhaps the most interesting characteristic of the Dumbo Octopus is the way it reproduces. Extremely different from all other species of octopi, female Dumbos do not have a specific mating season. They are able to bear eggs through the entirety of their maturation process, laying them under small rocks and shells on the seafloor. or tucking them in their tentacle webbing and carrying them. Males have an extra “tentacle-like structure” which carries their sperm. It is believed that this means they can mate with a female at any given moment and the female can make the sperm last over a longer period of time.

Unfortunately, the odds of a human seeing one of these octopuses in their lifetime is slim to none because of how deep into the ocean they live. However, if you are fortunate enough to ever see one of these tiny, intriguing creatures, pay attention because they have a variety of characteristics. Dumbo Octopi can be short, yellow, brown, or giant. They can have a spine, suckers, and different colored fins. Also, they can be a bit camera shy.

Source Links:

Aquarium of the Pacific



4 thoughts on “Say Hello to the Dumbo

  1. Jack Andrew Guay

    I really enjoyed learning about this species of octopus, i wasn’t aware that it existed and it is very cool looking. I have a pretty extensive knowledge on rare and unique wildlife, one of my favorite animals is a species of jellyfish that is technically biologically immortal. What this means is that has the potential to be able to live forever. This species of jellyfish is called turritopsis nutricula. If you want to learn more about it heres a link to a website that describes it in depth. (

  2. Jenna Campbell Post author

    Shannon, thank you so much for expanding on my post. I’m surprised I didn’t see that in any of my sources. That’s very interesting about them not having ink flaps. It’s probably because they are so far down in the ocean, that there is very little light, so having ink as a defense mechanism wouldn’t be of much use. I know some types of the Dumbo Octopus do live a little closer to the surface of the ocean, so maybe they are the ones who have adapted ink flaps. It’s something to look into for sure! Thanks for the comment!

  3. Emily Josephine Engle

    I really enjoyed this blog because it caught my attention right away. I have been a fan of Finding Nemo since I was little, so I wanted to read on as soon as I saw the picture of the octopus. I started looking into why they are named Dumbo Octopus. They are called Dumbo Octopus because they have ear-like fins that look similarly to the Disney character Dumbo. In total, there about 17 different species of Dumbo Octopus.

    More info on Dumbo Octopus:

  4. Shannon Bridget Obrien

    I looked into the species a little more and I found that these species rarely have ink flaps! SO “you guys made me ink,” isn’t entirely accurate. Thats okay, hollywood magic. I also looked into the ink that they produce and what it means. It is generally used as an escape mechanism: Great post!

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