Letters to the Editor (2000)


Staff member
Site Owner
May 30, 2000
From deep in the TONMO archives, here are the Letters to the Editor feature for the year 2000, which pre-dated our forums:


Ante todo reciba mis cordiales saludos Dr Morelli, soy estudiante de Ciencias Biologicas, en la UNMSM, Lima Peru, y queria manifestarle mi necesidad por contar con informacion sobre parasitos en Octopus mimus o octopus vulgaris, a fin de que Usted me pueda ayudar quedare muy agradecido, atentemente



First of all it receives my warm greetings Dr Morelli, I am student of Biologicas Sciences, in the UNMSM, Lima Peru, and queria to show my necessity to atentemente tell on information on parasitos in Octopus mimus or octopus to him vulgaris, in order that You can help me will be been thankful very,


Hello JA!

First I should point out that I'm not a doctor, nor am I even an expert on octopus or cephalopods. I am, however, someone who enjoys maintaining this web site for people like me who find these creatures fascinating, and are happy to read something new about them on a weekly basis.

Second, I apologize for the translation above (and below), it's quite crude. But I believe I understand your question and perhaps can give you at least some information.

As far as I can tell, it seems that there are two marine biologists (S. Abollo and E. Pascual) who focus on parasites in cepholopods, and have conducted many studies. Unfortunately, I can't find these studies on the Internet, but I can at least give you information on the journal you should be looking out for:

JT The journal of parasitology.
DA JUN 01 1999 v 85 n 3
PG 508
AU Gestal, C.
AU Abollo, E.
AU Pascual, S.
TI Larval Nematodes (Spiruroidea: Cystidacolidae) in Octopus vulgarus (Mollusca: Cephalopoda: Octopodidae) from the Northeastern Atlantic Ocean.

There are other publications and articles written by Abollo and Pascual, but I believe the one above would be most pertinent to your research. Perhaps at your school or University you can find access to this publication (The Journal of Parasitology).

I hope this is a little helpful. You might also want to visit The Cephalopod Page hosted by a true doctor, Dr. James Wood. His site is great and if you can get to him, you'll find that he himself is very helpful as well.

Good luck!

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster -- [email protected]


Hola Ja! Primero debo precisar que no soy doctor, ni es yo incluso un experto en el pulpo o los cefal�podos. Soy, sin embargo, alguien que goza el mantener de este Web site para la gente como m� que encuentra a estas criaturas el fascinar, y es feliz leer algo nuevo sobre ellas en una base semanal. En segundo lugar, me disculpo por la traducci�n arriba (y abajo), �l soy absolutamente crudo. Pero creo entiendo que su pregunta y quiz�s puede dar le por lo menos a una cierta informaci�n. Por lo que puedo decir, se parece que hay dos bi�logos marinas (S. Abollo y E. Pascual) que se centra en par�sitos en cepholopods, y ha conducido muchos estudios. Desafortunadamente, no puedo encontrar estos estudios en el Internet, sino que puedo por lo menos darle la informaci�n sobre el diario que usted debe mirar hacia fuera para: Jt el diario de la parasitolog�a. AU Gestal, C. AU Abollo, E. AU Pascual, nematodos de S. TI Larval (Spiruroidea de la PAGINACI�N 508 de DA DE JUNIO 01 1999 el v 85 de n 3: Cystidacolidae) en el vulgarus del pulpo (moluscos: Cephalopoda: Octopodidae) del Oc�ano Atl�ntico del noreste. Hay otras publicaciones y art�culos escritos por Abollo y Pascual, pero creo que el arriba ser�a el m�s pertinente a su investigaci�n. Quiz�s en su escuela o universidad usted puede encontrar el acceso a esta publicaci�n (el diario de la parasitolog�a). Espero que esto sea un poco provechoso. Usted puede ser que tambi�n desee visitar la paginaci�n del cefal�podo recibida por un doctor verdadero, el Dr. James Wood. Su sitio es grande y si usted puede conseguirle, usted encontrar� que �l s� mismo es muy provechoso tambi�n. Buena suerte!

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster -- [email protected][/i]


Thought you might appreciate this......

The Octopus Dress

There's background on it at this site.

"Octopus...it's what's for dinner!"

-- LB
Hey LB,

Love it! Thanks for the tip.

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster -- [email protected]



i have a question about octopi... what kind of studies, and by whom have been

done on these species? i can hardly find anything about any types of

experiments performed on the octopi...

thanks, JP

Hello JP,

There are over 150 species of octopus. There are all KINDS of "octopus experts," a few of which can be found on the Links page of TONMO.com. Check it out, I think it's a great place to start.

With regard to experiments, there are a few very interested anecdotes in Richard Ellis' Monsters of the Sea. I highly recommend it. Great reading!

Earlier this year (as referenced in TONMO.com's News Archive) there was one good story from the Reuters news wire that told of an experiment with an octopus and a jam jar. Basically, scientists put a crab inside a jam jar and placed it in a tank occupied by a hungry octopus. At first, it took the octopus 21 minutes to figure out how to get to the crab. But after a while, it began to learn how to unscrew the top of the jar, and eventually could do it in under one minute! But when scientists stopped the experiment for one or two days and then returned the jar to the tank, the octopus was as ignorant about the solution as it was before all this started. So, the experiment taught us that octopuses have a functioning short-term memory, but little or no long-term memory.

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster -- [email protected]


My son desperately would like an octopus for Christmas, but we are

having a hard time finding one in our current location. Is there a list of

exotic pets stores that may be likely to carry octopi on a regular basis?

Thank you,

Hello AB,

The most responsible thing for me to do is to point you directly to an article found on Dr. James Woods' Cephalopod Page titled Sources of Live Cephalopods. Here you will find all the information you need for research and decision-making on buying an octopus for your son. Near the bottom of the page you'll find some helpful contact information. Good luck with your search -- please let me know what you decide. Your son is a lucky guy!

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster -- [email protected]

What a treat to find this site!! Perhaps you can help with an answer.

When we go spotlighting on our local beach at low tide we find tiny

octopus in tide pools with sandy bottoms. They are 'sandy' colour at

rest or when creeping around but go red when swimming. The swimming

animal is about 2 cm from head to arm end, and about 0.5cm across its

head. We are familiar with the local Blue Ring Octopus and this is a

different species. Are they likely to be young of a larger species or a

small species? I have been unable to find any information locally so



Are you from Austrailia? That's where you're most likely to find the blue-ringed octopus. There are actually two species -- [/I]Hapalochlaena lunulata grows up to 20cm, while Hapalochlaena maculosa is the smaller and more common version. They are both extremely poisonous -- deadly so. The ones you're observing do sound like they're smaller than either of the full-grown blue-ringed octopuses, but I can't give a definitive answer without more information to conduct further research with.

Scientists have indicated that octopuses in general turn red when they are in a combatative or emergency-type mode. Perhaps these turned red and swam away when they sensed your presence? Imagine being an octopus and seeing for the first time a human being! Objectively speaking, I wonder which creature is the more startling to the other. I'd say that both humans and cephalopods make an equally significant sensory impact in terms of the reaction to their physical presence when observed by other species.

ANYhow. Back to your question -- I can't say for sure what you're looking at. But I
can tell you that if there's the slightest chance that these creatures ARE the blue-ringed octopus, by all means stay away!

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster -- [email protected]



We have an octopus that we have not been able to ID (she arrived as a vulgaris). BUT now.. she has presented us with eggs. She has been kept in a 70 gallon display, and has been on a diet of crayfish, ghost shrimp and shark formula. I'm going to follow the links from your site.. but any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for any input

Hi Anne:

It is my understanding that people who sell octopus will commonly identify the specimen as an Octopus vulgaris by default, simply because that is the most common species. In truth there are more than 150 species, and it is not unheard of for a buyer to get misinformation about the specifics of his/her new octopus unless the seller is very knowledgeable. I'm not saying that you've necessarily been misinformed -- of course I have no way of knowing. What makes you think your octopus is NOT an O. vulgaris?

To answer your question -- the best resource for marine biologists and true cephalopod hobbyists is Dr. James Woods' Cephalopod Page. I've exchanged emails with him a few times; I'm sure he'll be happy to help if he finds the time. Certainly you should be able to find some helpful information on his site -- be sure to read his FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster -- [email protected]



Fantastic web site! It's nice to see a place that is as fun and lively as

octopuses. Have you considered adding a cephalopod gallery? Surely

I'm not the only guy who'd really like octopus wallpaper on his

computer, and who has been frustrated in the search for usable


You mention eating squid (or calamari) on several occasions, but I

didn't see any reference to eating octopus. Maybe I didn't read far

enough. I'm curious because, although I love octopus sushi, it

disturbs me to think I'm eating such an intelligent, peaceful animal. In

fact, the more I learn about octopuses, the harder it becomes to eat


Thanks for providing the octopuses such a fun and informative base

on the web!

Hello CW,

Yes, I do hope to include a gallery on this site at some point. I need to take some time to find some great exclusive photos and get permission to use them on my site. I take some pride in the fact that all content on this site is either created by myself or is used by permission -- I'd like to add some more outside content, but again, securing permission takes time (and alas, sometimes money). I took my own pictures of
Octopus hongkongensis at the New England Aquarium earlier this year, but they came out a bit fuzzy. I may scan one or two anyhow.

I do eat squid and calamari when I can. I haven't had octopus in recent memory. I'll tell you what -- I know of a good Japanese restaurant not far from where I work. In the next week or two I'll venture out and get some octopus sushi, and will let you know how I liked it.

Some folks have asked me if I've had any problems with my audience because I praise the octopus as one of God's creatures but also praise them as food at the same time. I don't believe there's a conflict of interest there. It all depends on your perspective. If you ARE thrown off when I talk about eating these animals, please don't read the last passage in this issue of TONMO.com! :smile:

Thanks a lot for your note, CW!

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster -- [email protected]


Great site you have. I have a question for you. I currently have a
Octopus macropus. I purchased him from a dealer in CA. I have had him
for a month and he is doing great. He feeds mostly on fiddler crabs and
frozen shrimp.
My question is I can't seem to find much info on this species. Where it
distribution is, max size.... If you know anything about this species I
would love to hear about it. I had originally ordered a bimaculatus but
to my surprise I got this little nocturnal wonder.
Hello CS,
Cool! As you may know, Octopus macropus is commonly known as "the long-armed octopus". They can grow to be up to 30 inches in length. They are typically red, with white spots, and tend to favor secluded, rocky environments to live and lay their eggs. They are night hunters, and my research indicates that they can be found in the Great Barrier Reef off Australia, and also off of Malta in the Mediterranean.

I did some poking around on one of the best cephalopod resources on the Internet -- Dr. James Wood's CephBase
There you will find this spectacular picture of your Octopus macropus. You can also check out this list of prey which essentially includes the critters you've mentioned.

If you're interested in more photos, here's another -- though I suppose you can just go over to your tank if you want to see what you've got. But if you really can't get enough, this photo of Octopus macropus is hard to beat.

You got yourself a beauty of an octopus! I hope this was helpful. Thanks for writing...

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster -- [email protected]


My son is doing a speech on the octopus and is searching for some very
interesting facts. He has tried to find out the average life span of an
octopus and any other "catch" things. Could you please help this great 5th
Hello LN,
Since there are about 150 species of octopus, it would be hard to give one answer to this question. But that doesn't scare me! I'd say it's safe to make the general statement that they typically live for about a year or two. Octopuses do tend to live longer in colder temperatures, which to me, makes sense. For example, I myself have observed that milk tastes better after one week when I put it back in the fridge rather than leaving it on the counter. I'm sure there's a correlation there.
But I digress. The larger octopuses (such as Octopus dolflieni and Octopus hongkongensis) can live up to 5 years of age -- but that's about as good as it gets. Surprising, really, when considering what complex animals they are.
And here's an interesting fact for the road -- goats and octopuses both have rectangular pupils.
Thanks for writing!
-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster


Mr. Morelli,
About 3 years ago when my son was 3 years old he found out that an octopus has three hearts. He wanted to know why? I couldn't tell him! I have spent three years looking for the answer. We now have a computer and I found your website and I pray that you have the answer to this question. My son, Brandon, is now fascinated with science and the octopus.
Thank you.

Hello MS,
I don't know why an octopus has three hearts any more than I know why a cow has four stomachs. But I can point you to a Web page that provides some facts about octopus hearts, and provides a picture: just click here

If you look closely at the yellowish organs in the photograph provided, you'll see that the octopus does indeed have one large systemic heart located in the center of its mantle, and also has two supporting bronchial hearts above and behind the eyes. The bronchial hearts are connected to the gills by capillaries, which oxygenate the blood before it's sucked into the systemic heart for pumping through the body.

Their closed, complex circulatory system allows them to be among the stealthiest, nimble and sensory-alert creatures on the planet. Imagine how strong, fast and alert you'd be if you had three hearts pumping fresh, oxygenated blood to all parts of your body. You'd be like a super-hero! But you'd probably have to breath VERY heavily to feed all that oxygen through your body. That would likely result in bad breath. Best to leave the three-heart circulatory system to the octopuses.

Also be sure to let Brandon know that if an octopus loses an arm, it just grows one back. Weird stuff.

Thanks for writing!

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster


Hi there...

A long time ago, I came across something interesting in World Book

Encyclopedia. Under "A," I saw an argonaut. It kind of looked like an octopus

with eight arms and all. It got its name from the Greek mythological story of

"Jason & the Argonauts." The argonauts were a sailing fleet led by Jason, and

according to legend, the fleet came across these weird creatures.

Do you have any info on them? Any links that I should know about?

Any info would be helpful.



Hello DB,

In the real cephalopod world, argonauts are also known as the "paper nautilus" because they inhabit a paper-thin shell (that later acts as an egg case). Their scientific name is Argonauta argo and they do have eight tentacles. You can see an image of the paper nautilus here, and another image can be seen here. Unfortunately there is not much detailed information about this animal on the Web, but the best photo and information can be found here, within Dr. James Wood's Cephalopod Page. Finally, I think you'll find some interesting info at the bottom of this page with regard to the paper nautilus.

Regarding Jason and the Argonauts, have a look at this fun site that walks you through the entire legend with accompanying cartoon illustrations. As you've noted, his mighty crew were called the "Argonauts," but I've yet to come across any information that says the crew ran into these creatures. I hope this helps a bit -- if anyone has further info to lend, as always, please write.


-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster


Hi Tony!

I ran across your page by accident and I think it's great...

I thought you might enjoy my halloween costume from last year entitled "Snorkeler's Vacation". (His name is Octopissimus-thanks to Jacques Cousteau...)

The paint job is incomplete-I've been researching photos for the best color scheme....


- SP

Hello SP,

Thanks! This is brilliant. Looks like I missed a great time.

Cheers, indeed!

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster - [email protected]


Mr. Morelli,

Whilst perusing through tonmo.com I came to the conclusion that the site

needs some visual stimulation. So I have created an original piece of art

for you to place on tonmo.com!


I expect to see it placed prominently on the site by tomorrow, as I'm sure

you'll agree it's simply brilliant. You can almost smell the briney depths

as you gaze upon this most majestic beast in its stunningly vivid

environment -- by now you are most certainly engulfed in a trance as you

ponder the utter impossibility of the apparatus housing the tentacles. No

detail was overlooked in the artist's rendering of eyes and mouth, I'm

certain you'll be utterly amazed at their lifelike brilliance! I'm sure

you're asking "how can it be?" Breathtaking, I know! The longer you gaze,

the more questions the viewer is bound to ask -- why is it just off center

to the left? Is that the lost civilization of Atlantis off in the distance?

I'm sure you're asking -- how do I go about sending royalty checks? My

standard fee for such services is $62,000 per hour, but I will rescind the

fee in this case...

Again Mr. Morelli, I can not begin to express how fortunate you are that I

have graciously provided this service to you. You may heap praise upon me

however you see fit on tonmo.com.

Good day.

-- MH
Hello MH,

This is outrageous. I cannot believe your arrogance in thinking that I would display your filthy picture on my site. See you Saturday for poker...


-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster - [email protected]



The octopus the writer [below] is referring to is the Mimic Octopus. I missed the program, but heard about it from others.

-- JB
Thanks JB!

The Mimic Octopus is a fine suspect for the behavior described by WdV in his letter. They are, after all, masters of mimicry -- they can take the convincing form of a giant crab, brittle fish, flounder, jelly fish and various other creatures of the sea. What fun it must be to have such an ability!

I hope to provide a more detailed report on the Mimic Octopus and the known species that are believed to be associated with them. Since they've been discovered relatively recently, there's some conflicting information about them and facts are hard to come by. Still, I intend to share a report here on TONMO.com about Mimic Octopuses sometime in the coming weeks.

Thanks again for writing!

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster - [email protected]


Hello Tony,

My girlfriend told me she'd seen a program on either Discovery or National Geographic about an octopus or a squid that did impersonations of fish. It would also swim a few metres up from the bottom of the ocean and then relax its whole body to descend again. The people on the program (I think they discovered this behavior) said it could also transform itself into an Eiffel Tower-like shape and that it did all of these things 'just for fun'; it had no apparent reason.

The question (of course) is: have you ever heard about a specific species of octopus or squid that shows this kind of behaviour? If you have, could you please mail me the exact name so that I can find out more about it?

Thank you for your trouble!


Hello WdV,

There are about 150 varieties of octopus, with the most common species being Octopus vulgaris. In recent years, this octopus has been observed as being much more thoughtful and creative than was once thought. I can certainly confirm from my reading and research (including Discovery Channel programming!) that they do have the ability to contort their bodies into remarkable shapes and forms. When it comes to evading predators, they have a full itinerary of tricks and illusions to cloak themselves or, depending on their choice of action, scare the enemy away.

Their ability to stretch their bodies can never be underestimated -- some anecdotal references are made in Richard Ellis' book titled "Monsters of the Sea." There's one about the fisherman who caught an octopus and put it in a cigar box. He closed the box and tied it shut with rope while he continued his fishing. Moments later when he turned to check on his catch, he found the octopus standing beside still-closed box, peering at him. He put the octopus back in the box and watched it to observe what would happen next. It had stretched the tips of one of its tentacles to become paper-thin and slipped it through the crease of the box, established a grip, and pulled the rest of its body out by flattening itself entirely.

An octopus floating to the top of the ocean and floating down again, perhaps just "for fun," is completely plausible. While we don't know everything about the motivations of octopuses in their natural habitat, we have observed them engaging in a variety of acts with purpose. Certainly there's much more for us to learn.

-- Tony Morelli, TONMO.com Webmaster - [email protected]

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