|Left photo is is ©Finding Dory's red octopus Hank (Source: movie.disney.co.uk) and on the right is its real-life counterpart, Octopus rubescens (Photo by Ken Phenicie Jr.).|
The octopus is considered as one of the most elusive and intelligent of sea creatures . We sure were fascinated with Hank, the animated counterpart of Octopus rubescens, more commonly known as the east Pacific red octopus. This species is known to inhabit the waters of
What makes them so interesting is beyond what we have encountered in the movie. Sure, they can change into a kaleidoscope of colors before and after capturing a prey. Based on one study, it displayed various colors before detection of a crab, turned light orange to gray during a free-swimming attack, colorless and almost transparent on landing, spotted or mottled upon grabbing the crab, and back to various colors. This series of color change may be associated with locomotor acts and postural adjustments . Below is a video of O. rubescens feeding on a crab .
Because of its soft flexible body and small papilla (projections on its skin), O. rubescens can morph into different shapes and textures, an ability that is very useful against predation. At the point of detection, it can rapidly change color, shape or even texture, confusing and alarming its predator altogether .
Much like Hank’s crafty moves in Finding Dory, O. rubescens is truly capable of escaping captivity and surviving on land. According to Monterey Bay Aquarium, a juvenile O. rubescens sneaked into an aquarium using a sponge as a cover, and was only caught red handed (after a year in an exhibit) while walking in the middle of the night. Workers also noticed that the crabs in the exhibit were decimated .
And yes, this species has three hearts as other octopuses do: one pumps blood through the body, specifically for the organs, while the other two exclusively pump blood through the gills . No doubt Hank, in the end, had the heart (or hearts?) to return and help Dory and her friends go back to their true home, the ocean.
To know more about O. rubsecens and other characters from Finding Dory, visit SeaLifeBase.
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