Scuba Diver Magazines

5 North Sulawesi Octopus Species


Related stories

Why You Should Stay Land Based in Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat is no longer solely the relm of...

Q&A: Walt Stearns

Underwater photographer and writer Walt Stearns has been a...

Endangered Hawksbill Turtle

Raja Ampat is home to the Endangered Hawksbill Turtle Did...

Wobbegong Shark Ambush Predator

The Wobbegong Shark is an Expert Ambush Predator Are you...

Top 10 Mistakes New Divers Make

We’re breaking down the top ten things that new...

North Sulawesi is home to a variety of Octopus species

You probably know that North Sulawesi has some of the most incredible fish species anywhere in the world, but did you know there are a variety of different species of octopus to see as well? Add these 5 to your list and see if you can spot any others while you’re diving around Gangga Island and the Bangka Archipelago

Mimic Octopus

Mimic Octopus
Mimic Octopus

One of the most famous octopus species in the world is the mimic octopus. You may have seen videos of them posing as other species like sea snakes, crabs and flounder. This incredible ability to shape shift is amazing to watch on screen but even more so in real life.

The mimic is quite small at only around 60cm including its arms, but Gangga divers, guides are great at knowing where to look for it. You might be expecting to see an creature with striking white and brown stripes as they are usually photographed or filmed in their defensive colours. However, in its relaxed state it’s a lighter brown colour.



Often mistaken for the mimic octopus, the wonderpus is another species that can change its body shape to look like other marine species. The 2 octopus species even have similar colouring. However, there are some distinct differences that you can look out for.

The first telltale sign is the eye stalks. Unlike the mimic, the wonderpus has elongated eye stalks that you might see peeking out of its sandy hiding spots. You should also take note of the colouring and markings. Wonderpus have a much more orangey tone and crisp orange-brown bands. These bands stretch all the way to the suckers. On the mimic octopus you’ll see white where the suckers are with no striped markings.

Long Armed Octopus

Long Armed Octopus
Long Armed Octopus

You may think every octopus is a long armed octopus but this one is specifically found only in the Indo-Pacificregion. It’s sometimes referred to as the Indonesian long armed octopus. It’s actually a very small species with a body only around 6cm long and a total length of 15cm even with its long arms.

Look out for their burrows in the sand or in the reef that often have piles of debris outside the entrance. They have a sandy colouring and blend well with their habitat, so you’ll need a sharp eye to spot one while they are still.

Blue Ring Octopus

Blue Ring Octopus
Blue Ring Octopus

This little guy has a bad reputation as being one of the most venomous animals in the sea. This is true but they are also quite docile unless provoked. Thankfully, they are very easy to identify and steer clear of as they have clear blue-black rings that become iridescent and pulsate when agitated.

You’re most likely to see these small octopi in rock pools and on shallower dives. They love to eat shrimp and hermit crabs so these are the perfect conditions for hunting.

Coconut Octopus

Coconut Octopus
Coconut Octopus

This is one of the most impressive octopus species in North Sulawesi both in brains and brawn. Named after their habit of hiding in coconut husks and even carrying around their shelters under their mantle so they can hide anywhere they go. They are also fantastic at using tools like sticks and pieces of debris to safeguard themselves against predators.

Look out for this solid looking brown-bodied octopus with a network of fine dark lines. However, they also have a remarkable ability to change colour from their natural brown to bright white and a range of blues.

5 species of 8-legged creatures are ready to be discovered and you might even find a species that isn’t even catalogued yet! Get a dive trip to North Sulawesi booked and keep your eyes peeled. Gangga Island Resort & Spa,

Photo Credit: Gangga Island Resort & Spa

Adrian Stacey
Adrian Stacey
Scuba Diver ANZ Editor, Adrian Stacey, first learned to dive on the Great Barrier Reef over 24 years ago. Since then he has worked as a dive instructor and underwater photographer in various locations around the world including, Egypt, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico and Saba. He has now settled in Australia, back to where his love of diving first began.

Listen to our Podcast


Get a weekly roundup of all Scuba Diver news and articles

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Latest stories
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x