With their color-changing skin, the propensity for escape, and their other amazing attributes—cephalopods are a group of animals that have long fascinating scientists and the public alike. Bret Grasse, manager of the MBL's Cephalopod Program talks all about these animals and what goes into caring for them and takes you on a behind-the-scenes tour of our Cephalopod Mariculture Lab in this latest #MBLSciShoots Digital Learning Lesson.

Learn more about the MBL's Cephalopod Mariculture Program.

Related Reading

A World First: MBL Team Births Multiple Generations of Pygmy Zebra Octopus | MBL.edu

Cephalopod, Inc. | Science Friday

Why Octopuses Might be the Next Lab Rats | NPR

The Newest Lab Rat Has Eight Arms | Hakai Magazine

Consider the Cephalopod | Nature Lab Animal

A Home for Cephalopods at MBL | Falmouth Enterprise

Questions from the Audience

Do all of the different types of cephalopods use the same biological mechanism to change their skin color and texture?

For the most part yes! They use a combination of chromatophores, iridophores, and leucophores to change a wide variety of colors in the blink of an eye. They also use specialized muscles on their skin to create the horn-like protrusions all over their skin called papillae.

Which of MBL's species is hardest to raise?

We lovingly refer to our flamboyant cuttlefish as the 'divas' of our cephalopod collection. They are as delicate as they are beautiful and require a lot of detail regarding feeding, habitat, and population dynamics (i.e. how many males/females).

What's the coolest cephalopod you've ever gotten to work with?

Vampire Squid (Vampiroteuthis infernalis) I've been able to work with them not only in the field but was also the first person to successfully display them at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in 2014.

Do you have a favorite species?

The Blanket Octopus has to be one of the weirdest, coolest cephalopods out there!

Watch the rest of the MBLSciShoot videos on our Youtube channel.