Chapter Nine: The Octopus as Monster: In which we Encounter a True Terror of the Depths: the Grim-Visaged Poulpe, with its Eight Sinuous, Writhing arms, Gorgon Face, and Deadly Beak.


There are about 150 types of octopuses. The smallest is the 2″ Octopus arborescens and the largest is the 31′ Octopus dofleini. The most common type is the Octopus vulgaris, which is usually smaller than 10′.

Some historians belive that the hydra (Heracles’s second labor) was in fact an octopus.

Ellis keeps mentioning Pliny the Elder, and at this point I feel like he’s worth mentioning. He was a Roman author, but I’m not going to go into detail. If you want to learn about him, click here.

Frank Bullen’s scathing opinion in regards to Victor Hugo’s portrayal of an octopus in Toilers of the Sea: “If high art in fiction be to clothe the utterly impossible as well as improbably in such fascinating language that the reader shall be crammed for the rest of his life with absurdities, then Victor Hugo was indeed the greatest fictional artist that ever lived” (Ellis 268).

This is just how hardcore an octopus can be: the female giant Pacific octopus lays as many as 80,000 eggs at once and guards them until they hatch. She then dies of starvation.

Fun Fact: “Cephalopod” translates as “head-foot” and “cephaloptera” translates as “head-wing.”

Fun Fact: the first underwater camera was built in 1899 by Louis Boutan.