Pacific Red Octopus - Octopus rubescens
View all Pacific Red Octopus Images in the Pacific Marine Index
The Pacific Red Octopus, (Octopus rubescens) or Ruby Octopus, is the smaller cousin to the Giant Pacific Octopus. This little octopus is the most commonly occurring shallow-water octopus on much of the North American west coast. Its range extends from the southern Gulf of California at least to the Gulf of Alaska, but may also occur in the western Pacific Ocean. Red Octopuses occur in an extensive range of depth from the intertidal zone to a depth of 1000 ft. (300 m.).
In the years prior to the description of this species in 1953, Red Octopuses were widely considered to be young Giant Pacific Octopuses. Many early descriptions were based on a combination of Red Octopus and Giant Pacific Octopus and to this day, the taxonomy of this species remains somewhat unresolved. Red Octopus generally grow to a length of 20 in. (50 cm.)8-10 cm, and weight in generally at 2 to 3 lbs.
Like all octopuses, the Red Octopus can change their colour and texture, making its appearance highly variable. Color can vary from a deep brick red, to brown, to white, or mottled mixtures of the three. The Red Octopus can be easily confused with the small Giant Pacific Octopus in the northern end of this species' range. The two can be differentiated by the presence of three eyelash-like papillae below the eyes of the Ruby Octopus that are absent from the Giant Pacific Octopus.
Photographing the Red Octopus or Ruby Octopus can be quite difficult. This small elusive little octopus hide anywhere they can fit into, having a dive buddy to help spot them is incredibly important. These octopuses are most commonly hidden inside discarded bottles and getting them out of the bottle can be quite a chore. Once you have the octopus out of the bottle give it some space. If threaten they may just jet away or hunker down inside another hole. Be very patient and let the octopus become comfortable with you and its surroundings. Getting the octopus to an area with a colourful background will help produce some great contrast in your images and give the octopus the opportunity to change colours. These octopus are quite small and having a mid range macro lens is the best option when trying to shoot these little creatures. Please remember that any interaction with these creatures is quite stressful on them and once they slow down or stop swimming its time to find a new subject to shoot.
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