An Octopus Changing Color? Find Out HOW And WHY!

Did you know an octopus can change color in a flash? It’s true! In this post, we are going to get into all of the weird and wonderful details behind their superpowered SKIN! Read on to discover how an octopus can change color in an instance, know exactly what color they need to be to become a perfect match to their environment, and why they go through all the trouble to change color in the first place!

When listing off octopus superpowers, where do we even begin?

They can squeeze their bodies through tight spaces, have panoramic vision, and are experts at camouflage and mimicry. Not bad considering they evolved from a snail!

Let’s not forget they are also incredibly intelligent.

Octopus, squids, AND cuttlefish can all change their skin color faster than it takes for you to blink. 

It’s all thanks to thousands of chromatophores and an extensive neural network that makes them into underwater billboards! 

????+???? = Magic ???? Videobubbles Octopus Cyanea or Day Octopus is diurnal, meaning they are awake and active during the day. As a result, their ability to change color & texture is a mega superpower of theirs! I mean, just look at em!One day octopus was observed changing patterns over 1,000 times over a 7 hour period. The ability to change texture allows them to break up their usual shape while millions of color changing cells work on blending the octopus into their environments. Whatever it takes to protect their squishy vulnerable bodies!????: One Step Too Far – Jonathan BuchOH HEY New Members! We LOVE that you're here!Make sure you grab your octopus activity guide/ coloring book at []( !Here are some quick questions for you as ya get settled in…1) Where in the world are you joining us from?2) When did your fascination for octopus begin?3) Feel free to share your favorite octopus photos/art down below4) Have any friends who share your love for octopus? Feel free to invite them! They won't be automatically added to the group– it'll ask them if they're interested in checking us out!Chat soon Nation!Without further ado, here are the new members!Kristan Anne,Barton Kiley,Josh Saks,Kevin Krentz,Jessie Redden,Katelyn Buchan,Kevin Allein Zu Haus,Michael Rohanchuk,Tristan Shields,Elbows Mcgregor,Josie Chodacki,Linda Habalová,Maria Coward,Περσεφόνη Κάππα,Andrew Ross,Lucy Dunstan-Beasley,Adriane Kaminski,Kasim Aslam,David Perkins,LaCaze Lacey,Kirk Meadows,Pete Nutt,Elizabeth Mattson,Chelsea Harris,Elizabeth Bishop,Judith Newton,Kimberly England MSc Psy,Gail Edwards,Matthew Skogebo,KâDā Sãvë,Jennifer Stephens,Zoe Jones,Carley Amox,Max Roux,Ronda Conroy,Terra Vandiver,Marion Picot,Yannik van Lierde,Stéphane Gros,Colleen Knott Rudnicki,Walker Kellogg,Tori Field,Lisa Sharland,Tina Sekulič,Andrew Price,Caitlin Cop,Jackie Major,Heather Sanger Miller,Helen Carter-Emsell,Carley Slot-Altus,OctoSight,Vincent Moss,Gary Daudistel,Maria Lourdes Alvarez Espinoza,Sonia Ayr,Alyssa Russcher,Abbie Butler,Darling Huyên Thai,Hugo Rubirosa,Niki Carroll,Catherine Crossley,Marco Ázera Soveta,Angela McCoy,Alana Wiltshire,Danny Carter,Tori Quinones,Amber Reed,Rob Sharkbait Jenkins,Eden Aviv,Mirjam F Stocker,Tom Francazi,Mahala Blossom,Melissa Pribish,Georgia Loughran,Dana Taylor,Elizabeth Purchase,Stas Ostapenko,Paula Charles,Lorraine Reese,Jeff Baker,Hikari Gale Sennin,Kyle Artinger,Tiffany Bellisario,Cécile Demers,Side WaysTim,Amanda Neal Lesley,Christopher Lesley,Reg Here,Candice Persin,Ben Martinez,Lynnse Kristin,Debbie Campoli

Posted by Octonation – The Largest Octopus Fan Club on Friday, November 13, 2020
The Day Octopus Changing Color Patterns By: Videobubbles


Chromatophores are small pigment-containing cells that are controlled by an array of muscles and nerves. These tiny, elastic sacs of color can be stretched or tightened. 

When a chromatophore is relaxed, the sac contracts and leaves an octopus looking white. 

When muscles around a chromatophore tighten, the sac is pulled open, showing color which can be black, brown, orange, red, or yellow-hello 70’s vibes! 

Imagine flexing your muscles and BAM-you have a whole new outfit on.

day octopus
Day Octopus By: Irina Sevriuk

🐙 Octopus Fun Fact

Chromatophores are not exclusive to cephalopods! Chameleons, fish, and some reptiles have chromatophores; however, cephalopod chromatophores are the most impressive. 

The speed at which they can change color and the way they use their skin for visual communication and camouflage is the most dynamic in the animal kingdom.

But wait! Color changing doesn’t stop with chromatophores. Octopuses (along with other cephalopods) have no subpar superpowers; so of course, they can display ALL colors. 

That’s where the iridophores, leucophores, and photophores come into the picture.

This Day octopus needs a name, what do you think? FLASH? ⚡️⁣Chromatophores in the octopuses skin control orange and brown color changes. Within these cells, there are thousands of tiny sacs of color changing pigments.When the octopus decides to be brown, the brown sacs stretch out to the surface in milliseconds making that color dominant. Iridophores work differently. They have the ability to reflect back different waves of light.Unlike the very fast changes seen in chromatophores, the alteration in iridophores moves slowly, requiring physiological changes cycling through the rainbow from red to orange to yellow to green to blue over a period of about 15 seconds to a minute.And finally, leucophores are white reflectors that add luminosity and contrast to an octopuses overall display.???? video by: @raymaxhoweOH HEY New Members! We LOVE that you're here!Here are some quick questions for you as ya get settled in…1. Where in the world are you joining us from?1. When did your fascination for octopus begin?1. Feel free to share your favorite octopus photos/art down below1. Have any friends who share your love for octopus? Feel free to invite them! They won't be automatically added to the group– it'll ask them if they're interested in checking us out!Chat soon Nation!Without further ado, here are the new members!Marian Ferro,Jack Burton,Frank Dukes,Mariah Thea Miller,Joshua Childs,Ashlie Bubb,Bethany Cheyenne,Dyrinda Tyson,Judi McDonald,Theresa Wright,Elizabeth Meade,Old//Haunts//Collective,Natalie Olvera,Jon Vinette,Karen Switzer,Clint Wolf,Sara Custer,Jessica Janda,Heidi Sander,Quinton Fancher,Jennifer Ragio,Gogo Gorki,Octavia B Kane,Lori Antis Wade,Derek Richardson,Felicia Dupree,Ollie Tietje,David Ryan,Jessica Aarons,Paul J Miller,Fred Fisher,Lynlee Wilkins,Shannon Hope Rich,Kathy Aguilar,Dylan Swallow,Michael Petrosky Flores,Virgie Davis,Amy Greufe,Myla Parry,Zoe Hunt,Cheryl McClain,Josh Barr,Frances Tona,Kahler Lueth,Jesse Gay,Sara Greyfox,Rusty Southworth,Graham Brutsch-Mason,Chad Whitley,Melissa Rhae,Nicki Harmon,Sarah Donovan,Cheryl Crockett Reinhard,Grady Newman,Loren Young,Erin Bruce,Leon Pierce,DC Smith,Tevin Singh,Baldy Edwards,Reese Cooper,Dillon Sprague,Jennifer Anchia Hurtado,Danielle Ruley,Alice Johnson,Riley Goodwin,Betty Wright,Holly Sherwin,Kristi Shideler,Jim Carroll,Theresa Nagy Phillmon,Rod Hamlet,Shena O'Lone,Branden W Halverson,Denise Gross,Anne McGlynn,Maura Beth Kennedy,方昶崴,Grace Bowen,Josh Hixon,Isabelle Kirch,Natasha Schrey,Jeanne Vanderpool,Trish Merritt,Alex Oren,Melissa Armenta,Austin Bol,Derek Manes,Jane Stefani Kasdan,Joseph Miller,Chrissy Miller Glatzmaier,Calvin Brown,Erik Mills,Jessie M Stull,Adri Leigh,Wickyd DeVille,Seleneo Westworld,Vargas Lorena,Judy Miller,Heidi L Lutz,Logan Campedelli,Ivy Carpe,Susan Konen Kubik,Laura Elizabeth,Patti Cadra,Rachael Andersen,Carolina Lopez,Isabel Bellido,Ashley Alexis,Svitlana Maslova,Sylvia Skinderowicz,Rachel Kouris,Jess Mooney,Valentina Giordano,Dancin Angie,Kristen McIntire,Breanna Gunn,Douglas Brewer,Gemma Pegler,Dave Jovick,Walter Newell,Genevieve Seaman,Annette Bahos,Robbin Tackwood-Corbett,Deanna Cirillo,Cindy Marcil-Bloom,Lora Story Bolman,Christina Kratky,Sienna Heard,Bianca Belli,Michael Reedy,Samantha Rose,Becky Mcculloch,Linsy Kay Horn,Jordan Bright,Josiah Bates,Moe Graves,Victor Villa,Indica Michelle Bicknell,Karen Lamb,Christopher Holmes,Tea Alex,Amanda Franklin,Kristi-Ann Henderson,Monica Almaguer,Charlene McCord,Denise De Sante Kaplan,Kaylin Rae Wade,Donna Rochat-Vasquez,Kimberly Eastham,Kristi Kroll,Michael Livingthedream Koslowski,Alicia Esplund,Amber Moss,Laura Reyes,Emma Sample,Summer Stone,Deborah Berk,Kristie Silha,Sara Lilley,Mike Dock,Amy Bondurant,Lynn Curry,Roger Murphree,Jennifer Darling,Skim LaBroad Odorizzi,Keith Tackett,Kendra Nicole Adams,AshleyApril Siviglia,Pat M Quinn,Breanne Baker,Sensei-Anthony Fontana,Billy Tibbetts,David Blank,Kaelyn Shea,Heather Williams,Karen Healy,Christopher Rnbw-boy McKinney,Melanie Patrick,Christopher Green,Justin W Hintz,Vanessa Parrott Roskam,Wayne Shank,Courtney Turner,Ronda Burke,Monica Evel Williams,Harold E. Dickinson,Angelisa Olson,Lee Lindsey McKinney,Joe Swanson,Katie Lynn Prater,Alicia Renee,Matt Iacolino,Janelle Harbaugh,Rob Allen,Jessica Chapman Anthony,Jennifer Love,Linda Steen Beard,Llewellyn Krastev,Audrey Gerkin,Brett Daley,Christyn Padgett Keef,Alfons Fhtagn,Heather Urban,Jimmy Johnson,Pamela Quattlebaum Austin,Grace Chong,Cate Hawkyard,Owen Lee,Danni DLee,Richard Scott Graham,Jennifer Heimann,Jamie Meadowsong Clark,Nina Anderson,Layla Shelmerdine,Brittany Brunker,Heidi Schindler,Shea Holloway,Kitty Dunn,Kali AiLin Mortensen,Trisha Benson,Sue Vance,Landon Colston,Cloe Leininger,Nicole Evans,Don Cedillo Jr.,Nathaniel Colby,Tyler Goetsch,Kayla Miller,Daniel Donaldson,Jaymie Bosley,Yana Capri,David Gunther,Subedi Som,Jared J Welch,Barbara Martin,Charlyn Dominy-Elliott,Emma Kroger,Alex D'Agostino,Bobbie Reif,Becky Porter,Stan Payne,Gretchen Gavin,Darian Wills,Sarah Young,James Gohagan,Kirsten Midura,Jama Hackworth,Garry Hardman,Richard Hill,Amy Tamulevicus,Mookie Guzman,Jessica Jaybird Moniz,Emily Balan,Alyssa Haines,Shelly Middleton,Sara Jean,Bea Lincoln,Jessica Tamela Yates,Catherine Lynn Hansen,Natalie Ward Cripps,Ophia Marie,Jose Toni Santiago Flores,Lura McClellan,Rick Baldwin,Tammy Lawson,Kavori Sue,Bree Scott,Eva Audrey,Esteban Manuel,Karen Armstrong,Jacqueline Victorio,Marlee Allen,Carlos Fernandez Moreira,Sálua Rigo,Cheryl Johnson Kobel Devonshire,Bri'Anna Ellis,Erin Giamongo,Krista Plucinski,Brandon Tierney,Laura Elizabeth,Shannon Carroll,Alexandra Toepfer,Florence Saunders,Elise Jokell,Åmbər Moultrie,Julia Chacheré,Nancy Sirota Fischer,Forrest Stol,Jupiter Grantham,Jared Schaefer,Josie Carpenter,Angel Schuck,Michael Paynes,Parris Grzyboski,Brandon Ordway,Lea Ann Kinney,Akili Burns,Scarlet Begonias,Jazmine Collier

Posted by Octonation – The Largest Octopus Fan Club on Friday, December 25, 2020
By: Raymond Howe


Just below the layer of chromatophores lie iridophores which means “bearer of rainbows.” 

Iridophores are stacks of thin cells that reflect light back at different wavelengths (and possibly different polarities!). This is how octopuses produce those shiny blue and green colors! 

The Caribbean Reef Octopus (Octopus briareus) puts on a fantastic color display using its iridophores by reflecting a metallic-like blue-green color around its eye and in its webbing. 

Like Cinderella’s dress!

Interestingly, the color that an iridophore reflects depends on the angle that it is seen.


An octopus’s third layer! 

Leucophore (light-reflecting) cells are covered with tiny disco ball-like granules that take on whatever light shines upon them. 

That means if you were to shine a blue light on an octopus, the leucophore skin layer would make them look blue! 

Leucophores help octopuses camouflage by reflecting the light already in the environment. The amount of light that reaches the leucophores is controlled by the chromatophore and iridophore layers above them.


???? Take me to your leader ???? ⁣⁣⚠️ Within chromatophore cells, there are thousands of tiny sacs of color changing pigments. Chromatophores control orange and darker color changes.⁣⁣⁣⁣???? When an octopus decides to shift to a darker color, the brown sacs stretch out to the surface, making that color dominant. ⁣⁣⁣⁣✨ Iridophores work differently. They have the ability to reflect back different waves of light. ⁣⁣⁣⁣Iridophores are found under the chromatophores and are responsible for producing the metallic looking greens, blues, and golds seen in some species, as well as the silver shimmery color around their eyes ⛔️⛔️ ⁣⁣⁣⁣???? Leucophores are reflectors that produce whiteness in cephalopods containing the high-refractive-index protein reflectin. Leucophores reflect whatever colors are in the available light field e.g. white in white light, red in red light⁣⁣⁣⁣???? Combine this with an octopuses photophores that produce bioluminescence (glowing skin) & you’ve got yourself some dynamic color changing skin! ????????❤️????????⁣⁣The common reef octopus was found in Papua New Guinea, and was nice enough to allow OceanShutter to record this moment!

Posted by Octonation – The Largest Octopus Fan Club on Tuesday, March 5, 2019
By: OceanShutter


The fourth “phore” are tiny, light PRODUCING organs! 

These specialized cells that create light allow an octopus to glow, which is known as bioluminescence. Unfortunately, not all cephalopods are lucky enough to possess photophores. 

The Firefly Squid (Watasenia scintillans), the Strawberry Squid, and the Glowing Sucker Octopus (Stauroteuthis syrtensis) are two of these lucky creatures. 

The Glowing Sucker Octopus can emit blue-green light from about 40 modified suckers!

Sparkly Strawberry Squid By: WHOI

WHY Is An Octopus Changing Its Skin Color?

Being a squishy treat in an ocean full of hungry animals with sharp teeth means you need to be able to protect yourself. 

Best way to do that? Become one with the habitat! 

Chromatophores, iridophores, and leucophores allow octopuses to blend into their environment in seconds. Rock, coral, seaweed, sand- you name it. An octopus can blend right in. 

Without much energy, they can completely avoid detection and save their more costly forms of defense, like inking, for dire situations.

Beyond becoming an unmoving object in the ocean, cephalopods also use their color-shifting skin to:

How do cephalopods use color camoflouge to protect themselves?

Let’s take a look at the Blue-Ringed Octopus (Hapalochlaena sp.). BROs will flash iridescent blue rings against yellow skin to warn predators to stay away. 

This is why octopus prefer to walk…

Caption this video! ????????????: Manta Dive Gili Trawangan (Ben Trayner)The Blue-ringed octopus, along with many other octopuses, are not great swimmers! Why?Well, the amount of energy needed to jet away puts a tremendous strain on their bodies. *Remember, the mantle contains all their free floating bodily organs — so things get pretty cramped when they completely exhale! Can you Imagine being underwater and using all the air in your lungs to move your body in any direction— how quickly do you think you could get to the other side of a pool? (by the way please don’t attempt this ????) For the Blue ringed octopus… the tiny amount of water brought into their small mantle cavity would have to be expelled at such a high speed— that they’re seriously better off walking. In fact, records of aortic pressure and blood flow show that their organ heart may completely stop because of how much pressure is required for swimming. Long story short— Yeah, no, don’t put the octopus down for cardio. They would much rather chill in their dens until it’s time to eat ???? #Relatable If ya read this far, share this walktopus to your timeline to cephalobrate day 4 of #OCTOpusMonth! ???? #science #nature #biology #reef #underwater #diving #sea #biodiversity #ocean #animals #fish #octopus #natgeo #nationalgeographic #natgeoyourshot #STEM #scuba #scubadiving #underwaterphotography #wildlifephotography #myoctopusteacher #Eyes #eye #love #heart

Posted by Octonation – The Largest Octopus Fan Club on Monday, October 4, 2021
By: Manta Dive Gil Trawangan

Squid and cuttlefish take color communication to a whole new level when mating. They can split their bodies in two, signaling to females on one side that they are ready to mate while on the other side flashing “get out of here” colors to other males.

Mesmerizing Cuttlefish!

Need a calm cuttle moment? We got you. Let’s learn together ???? ⬇️????: bugDreamer.comCuttlefish skin has more color changing chromatophores per square inch than any squid or octopus which means they’ve got the highest resolution of any other cephalopod!⁣???? Could you imagine having TV screen-like skin? ????⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣???? They look like mesmerizing UFO’s suspended in the water column.⁣↕️ Cuttlefish have a miraculous superpower that allows them to control their buoyancy by adjusting the levels of gas in their cuttlebone, a porous internal shell that runs the length of their body.This is how they soar up and down so effortlessly!⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣???? The Cuttlefish has a skirt-like fin around their body that provides balance. This muscular fin endlessly waves & precisely maneuvers the cuttlefish in any direction: backward, forward, even in circles. ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣???? When needing to make a quick getaway, cuttlefish morph their tentacles, arms, & body into a sleek looking sports car-like shape and use jet-propulsion to ZOOM backwards at high speeds!⁣⁣Are ya wondering how they don’t bump into anything while swimming backwards? ???? ⁣⁣〰️ |||/ 〰️⁣➡️ Get this…Cuttlefish can squint their W shaped pupils right down the middle and focus hunting prey while simultaneously watching for any predators that might sneak up behind them! ⁣⁣???? Imagine being able to split your pupil into two and see in reverse! ????⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣????We could watch & learn about these lightning’s rods for hours!⁣, how bout you?⁣⁣If ya read this far, comment????????????????⁣

Posted by Octonation – The Largest Octopus Fan Club on Wednesday, April 14, 2021
By: bugDreamer

The aptly named Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) is the reigning champion for mimicry behavior. Instead of blending in, it adopts the body coloration of different sea creatures within its habitat such as:

  • Flounders
  • Lionfish
  • Sea snakes

To really sell it, the Mimic Octopus also acts just like whatever sea creature it is mimicking!

Mimic octopus transforming it's shape and color in response to scuba diver! (Thaumoctopus mimicus)

????Rate this OctoFlex from 1 to 8 ????????: OceanVizion???????? In situations where an octopus is attempting to defend itself, it can either shoot ink, jet away, and/or display deimatic behavior. ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ ???? Deimatic is a Greek word that means “to frighten”⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣Deimatic behaviors are an attempt to startle predators and are commonly used by animals that lack a strong defense—like this here squishy mimic octopus! ???? In this instance the mimic octopus flexes it’s muscular hydrostats & displays white & black contrasting bands to appear larger & spooky! ???? Think of a person puffing their chest up and standing their ground. We imagine the octopus in this moment thinking… ????❗️ Hey human, I’m bigger than I look! Stay right where you are. What do you think Nation? ???? If ya read this far, what about the octopus would you like to learn more about?

Posted by Octonation – The Largest Octopus Fan Club on Friday, March 5, 2021
By: Ocean Vizion

How do octopuses know what texture they should turn into?

Within less than a second, an octopus’s eyes take in their surroundings. They relax or contract their chromatophores and have assumed their camouflage. 

But, you can’t talk about octopus camouflage without also talking about papillae.

Papillae are small regions in the skin with a specialized network of muscle fibers and nerves that tighten or pull to create 3D skin. This is how an octopus changes the texture of its skin in conjunction with its color- I know, the superpowers are endless! 

Octopuses can go from having smooth skin to having bumps and spikes all over their body as fast as they can change color.

The Gloomy Octopus With Papillae On Their Skin By: Elly Gearing

🐙 Octopus Fun Fact

Squid don’t have papillae! Only octopus and cuttlefish have the power to get spiky and look like they are ready for a punk rock concert.

papillae on an octopus

Since we know octopuses are crazy smart and that they can see their surroundings exactly as they are, it’s no wonder octopus can meld into another shape and color so expertly.

Have you ever seen an octopus changing color? Let us know in the comments down below!

If you want to educate yourself some more about all sorts of different cephalopods, take a look at our encyclopedia. Or, what we call it, our Octopedia!

Connect with other octopus lovers via the OctoNation Facebook group,! Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with the conservation, education, and ongoing research of cephalopods.

More Posts To Read:

Similar Posts