Octopuses are notorious for their intelligence, tentacles, and their alien-like appearance. In fact, the octopus is widely considered to be the most alien animal on earth.
They’re part of the cephalopod family which in Greek means “head foot”. It’s a pretty accurate description when talking about the octopus.
In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at the anatomy of an octopus and answer a question that sometimes comes up when discussing these creatures. How many eyes does an octopus have?
Octopus’ have two eyes that are structured similarly to human eyes. They have relatively good eyesight and are more than capable of seeing everything that is going on in their surroundings and even recognizing human faces.
How Many Eyes Does An Octopus Actually Have?
Octopuses have two eyes that are located on each side of their head, similar to the positioning of human eyes.
Vision is incredibly important to octopuses as it allows them to find food, seek shelter and even know when a predator is lurking.
Relative to their body size, octopuses have quite large eyes. For example, the common octopus has an eye diameter range of between 15-20mm (0.5 – 1-inch).
Their eyes contain only one type of light receptor, which only allows them to see in black and white.
However, studies have shown that they are able to see blues and yellows, but their vision stops there.
They also have no blindspot, meaning that they essentially have two panoramic cameras on each side of their head.
This ensures that it’s very difficult to sneak up on an octopus without them seeing you, perfect for keeping well aware of their surroundings at all times.
What Can An Octopus See?
Despite octopuses being colorblind, they can actually see quite a lot thanks to not having a blindspot and having panoramic eyes.
Their eyes are perfectly adapted for seeing nearby objects, but they can’t see much past the 2.5-meter mark.
That said, they do have an impressive trick where they contract a circular muscle around their eyes which moves their lens closer to the retina which results in 20-20 vision.
Octopuses possess an autonomic involuntary response that maintains the orientation of their pupils permanently.
They always have horizontal pupils, no matter what. It’s a reaction mediated by their statocysts – a pair of organs situated in cartilage below the octopus’s brain.
Octopus Eye Facts
Octopuses are remarkable animals, they’ve fascinated scientists for many years due to their complex anatomy.
From having nine brains and three hearts to having blue blood and being super-intelligent, it’s would be easy to assume that these animals are unearthly.
Below are some fascinating octopus eye facts that may come as a surprise:
1. Detect Light Through Their Skin
Octopuses have opsin molecules that are light-sensitive proteins that are found in their eyes, helping them to detect light.
But these proteins are also found in their chromatophores, which are distributed through their skin.
This means that hypothetically, octopuses can “see” or detect light through their skin.
2. Camera Like Focus
Imagine having eyes that can focus on demand just like a camera, well.. the octopus can do exactly that.
Octopus can focus their eyes by moving their lens in or out simply by contracting a muscle. Instead of wearing, glasses all you needed to do was squeeze a muscle and your eyes would automatically adjust.
This is the luxury that octopuses have, and it helps them to focus in on prey before they strike.
3. Can See Polarized Light
Another way octopuses add color to their black and white world is through polarized vision.
Having polarized vision helps octopuses communicate, see through other animals’ camouflage, and even contrast enhancement.
Sadly the closest we humans come to polarized vision is by putting on polarized glasses to cut down on glare.
So, how many eyes does an octopus have? Only two, but they have some remarkable enhancements to their vision that have fascinated scientists for decades.
Octopuses have the ability to contract a muscle in their eyes that focuses in the lens, allowing them to have on-demand 20-20 vision.
It’s clear to see that octopuses have very impressive vision, which contributes to them being some of the most effective predators in the ocean.
I really do hope that you have enjoyed this post today and have learned something new today about octopus vision.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article and feel free to stick around to learn more about octopuses and other marine life.
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Hi, I’m George – the founder of MarinePatch. I created this blog as marine wildlife has been my passion for many years and I’ve spent decades learning and dedicating myself to documenting all I can about the topic.