Meet the Incredible Octopus That Can Live on Land

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Written by Sharon Parry

Published: November 28, 2023

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Algae octopus (Abdopus aculeatus) at the night time. Panglao Island, Philippines
© Oksana Maksymova/

When your habitat is a beach in Australia with one of the highest tides in the tropics, it’s unsurprising that you have adapted to take advantage of the vast areas of exposed shoreline. This environment is home to an octopus-like no other on Earth. All other octopuses are marine creatures that spend their whole time underwater. Their bodies can obtain oxygen from water and do not breathe air. This means that they get trapped in rock pools during low tide. The abdopus octopus (sometimes called the algae octopus), however, can walk on land – pulling itself across the rocks using the suckers on its arms. It can walk from pool to pool looking for prey, giving it access to loads more food. It’s just as efficient at moving on land as in the water.  

Where Does the Algae Octopus Normally Live?

Octopus underwater in the ocean and Atlantic coastline, split level view over and under water surface, Spain, Galicia, Rias Baixas

Most octopuses get stuck in rock pools as the tide goes out.


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The scientific name for the algae octopus is Abdopus aculeatus, a member of the octopodidae family. They are described as the only land octopus because even though some other species make short journeys out of water, none travel as far or as often as the algae octopus.

These guys are found around the coasts of Northern Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. You will generally spot them where there are abundant growths of seagrass. They build dens in the sandy seafloor and then line them with small pebbles. It isn’t easy to spot them in their natural habitat thanks to their mottled gray and brown coloration. They look just like a shell overgrown with algae – hence their name.

How Does the Algae Octopus Normally Feed?

These octopuses are most active during the day when they leave their dens to hunt for food. Some forage is among coral, but most feed in rock pools. Their prey includes small crustaceans, including crabs – as seen in this clip. Their hunting technique is called jetting. This is where they force water out of their siphon, which propels their body forward headfirst. This allows them to take the prey by surprise. Once the crab has been secured, they use their sharp beak to drill through its shell and access the nutritious meat underneath. They usually eat their prey straight away, but sometimes, they take it back to the den to enjoy in peace.

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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