Why Do Octopuses Shoot Ink Cloud?

Why Do Octopuses Shoot Ink Cloud?

Octopuses are strange animals. Not only do they have three hearts and blue blood, but they can create clouds of dark liquid in order to conceal themselves from enemies. It’s true – octopuses actually do shoot ink! Octopuses are one of earth’s oldest species and living in the ocean, they’ve needed to adapt to survive. The ocean is full of predators. Therefore, these invertebrates have evolved and become more difficult to catch by developing natural defenses. This has allowed for the proliferation of the species to the point of creating noxious clouds from the composition of their own bodies at will. 

First of all, the liquid ejected by octopuses, commonly referred to as “ink,” is actually made of melanin, the same pigment that colors human skin. When an octopus is frightened or wants to scare off a predator, it swallows water rapidly and propels it at the enemy, forcing the dark liquid out of its “ink sac.” Evolution has allowed for octopuses, as well as many other animals, to naturally have ink sacs in their anatomical makeup for such survival purposes.

While octopuses do use their ink in order to hide by obscuring themselves or blinding their predators, they also use it as an attack! The ink has a chemical property called tyrosinase, which actually physically harms enemies by causing irritation and affecting their senses of smell and taste. It can be a range of colors, from black to red to brown. This compound is so strong and powerful that an octopus can actually die if it does not escape its own cloud quickly enough. They have also been observed shooting their ink at crabs and small fish that come too close to their eggs. Being that they are highly intelligent, octopuses have used this method of survival to become one of the oldest living species on earth. 

Octopuses are amazingly adaptive creatures. Their invertebrate bodies allow them to change shape and squeeze into tight spaces, evade predators, and attack those who threaten them or their offspring. To survive through thousands of years despite their relatively short lifespans, their bodies have to have evolved and adapted tremendously. Of the many fascinating ocean creatures, octopuses stand out as some of the strangest and most unique. The melanin-based ink they generate to disable their enemies is certainly one of the most evolved defense mechanisms amongst modern mammals.