• The Brief
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Deep in the ocean, there is an octopus lurking. A shark approaches. Will your octopus try to eat the shark? Or flee? Its life is in your hands now.

Care for an octopus and help it to thrive. But stay on your toes, it’s an octopus-eat-octopus world out there, and you might not guess who’s a threat.

Delve Deeper

Cephalopods are adaptable marine species and have the potential to support South Australia’s growing need for sustainable seafood. However, many cephalopod species are poorly understood and it is crucial that the basics of their biology are first understood.

Find out why octopus are excellent examples of adaptation here.

Octopus exhibit a number of traits that help them adapt to their environment and survive:


Octopus and other cephalopods can instantly change the colour and texture of their skin to match their surroundings.


When pursued by a predator, an octopus releases a dark pigment that briefly conceals the octopus. The “ink” also contains a chemical that inhibits the predator’s sense of smell.

Jet Propulsion

In an emergency, octopus can move rapidly using jet propulsion, where they force water through a funnel to propel themselves in the opposite direction.

Other Adaptations

Octopus can also fit into tiny crevices because they lack skeletons, sacrifice a limb (which regenerates) to escape predators, and produce venom to paralyse prey.

Three ways to think about adaptation are:

  1. Adaptation is the evolutionary process which enables an organism to live its best life in its habitat (e.g., octopus evolved from ancient marine molluscs with shells);
  2. Adaptedness refers to how well an organism can live and reproduce in certain habitats (octopus can even edit their RNA (ribonucleic acid) sequences to adapt to their environment);
  3. An adaptive trait is a feature that helps an organism to survive and reproduce (e.g., an ability to camouflage).

Discover more



Find this exhibit at the UniSA Library

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