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I'm still working on the winner of last week's poll, "Fins 101", but for today I thought I'd give an update on Violet the octopus. A couple of weeks ago I introduced this extraordinary animal by posting a clip of her opening up a jar to get at the food we placed inside. If you missed it, that diary is here.

My local species of octopus, Octopus vulgaris, or the Common Atlantic Octopus, feeds mainly on crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp. Violet's been getting a steady diet of frozen shrimp lately since live foods are hard to come by in the middle of winter.

I decided to give her a live crab treat the other day and filmed her stalking and killing the prey to demonstrate the predatory behavior of this animal. As you can see, octopi don't fool around when it comes to capturing a meal.

The video below is only thirty-two seconds long. What you don't see, because it is hidden deep within the base of the eight arms, is the beak-like mouth. When the prey is captured by the powerful suction cups on the arms it is immediately pulled into the beak, which gives the crab a single bite through the carapace to kill it. The toxic saliva paralyzes the prey and begins to break down the flesh within the exoskeleton so that it can be easily consumed.

Fun Fact: When an octopus swallows food the esophagus passes directly through it's brain.

Originally posted to Mark H on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 12:01 AM PST.

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