Coconut Octopus – Master of Disguise

February 6th, 2023 • uwt

Have you heard of the coconut octopus? This incredible creature, also known as the veined octopus, is a species of octopus that has the ability to use all kinds of shells as a home or in defense. The octopus likes to find a comfy shell and carry it around, a sort of “mobile home”. It will hide inside the shells when resting or when hiding from predators.

Coconut Octopus


Coconut Octopus – Where do they Live?

The coconut octopus is a small species of octopus, growing to about 20 cm in length. They are native to the Indo Pacific region and we encounter them quite often in Bali. They typically live in shallow sandy sites rather than on the coral reef. Like other octopi, they are highly intelligent and have been observed using tools such as shells or even discarded plastic. These octopuses have been observed carrying coconut and clam shells over long distances. They typically use a shell that is usable for it based on size. As they octopus gets larger it may collect more shells and discard others. It’s not unknown for two octopus to fight over possession of a shell.

When the coconut octopus is threatened, it will retreat into its shell, making it very difficult for predators to get to it. This ability to protect itself in this way has been a key factor in the survival of the species. In addition to providing protection, the shells also serve as a form of camouflage, helping the octopus to blend in with its surroundings and remain hidden from predators.

Masters of Camouflage

The coconut octopus is also known for its ability to change color and texture in order to blend in with its surroundings. The coconut octopus is able to change the color of its skin to match the surrounding environment, making it nearly invisible to predators. If you carefully observe octopus for a time you can see this ability at work. They can rapidly change colour and texture as they move from place to place. This ability helps octopus hide from predators.

Coconut Octopus with Shell


The ability of the coconut octopus to use tools and solve problems has made it a popular subject of study among scientists and marine biologists. This species has been the subject of numerous research studies, and has been found to have a high level of intelligence and problem-solving skills, similar to that of dolphins and other highly intelligent animals.

Diving in Bali with Coconut Octopus

Coconut octopus are one of the most popular animals that our guests inquire about. The most common places to find them in Bali include Amed, Tulamben, and the north coast of island. Our dive guides know all of the top sites to encounter them. The key to photographing octopus is to be patient and allow them to get used to your presence. Don’t rush in with strobes and lights flashing as they will do their best to hide. A slow and gentle approach is the way to build a sense of trust. Join the Underwater Tribe for a diving safari in north east Bali for your best octopus encounters.

Coconut Octopus in a Shell

Whether you’re an underwater photographer or not, the coconut octopus is definitely worth learning about. With its unique abilities and remarkable adaptations, it is a fascinating species that is sure to capture your imagination. We know they are one of our favourite critters to encounter while underwater. They offer an endless source of entertainment with their antics and intelligence.