Marine Expert Explains How Certain Species of Octopus Can Run Away From Predators Using Their Tentacles

Science Friday spoke with marine expert Dr. Chrissy Hubbard, a Senior Researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, who explained why and how certain species of bipedal octopi are able to use their tentacles to run away from predators.

When octopuses jet to escape a predator there’s so much internal pressure that’s built up inside of their mantle cavity or inside their body sac, that it actually stop their hearts briefly. Going into cardiac arrest while running away in a panic probably isn’t ideal. Walking backward allows them to use two of their arms for locomotion and six of their arms for camouflage to otherwise make their shapes unrecognizable. …Just the way we don’t have to stop and think “move left leg, move right leg”, it’s a type of motion called “feet forward” movement that becomes almost automatic once it gets going and I think it was part of their normal locomotion repertoire of how they can move around

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails. Lori can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.