Big Island Snorkling Tours Blog

The He’e or Hawaiian Octopus

small octopus in man's hand

According to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the He’e or Hawaiian Octopus (Octopus Hawaiiensis) is a cephalopod and often called ‘squid’ by locals.  These marine invertebrates are nocturnal and can be found on shallow reef flats that slope down to depths of 150 feet.

There are two species – the Day Octopus or He’e and the Night Octopus or He’e-makoko.  Many refer to their appendages as tentacles but they are actually arms.  According to Hawaiian Ocean Project the arms can function on their own, and, if cut off, they will grow back.

While very passive animals, they come equipped with venom to capture and kill their prey.  They feed mostly on crabs and sometimes other fish.

To reproduce, the males have a modified arm that inserts sperm into the females who lay eggs on the ocean floor which are guarded by the males.

These creatures are considered to be extremely intelligent and have been discovered to have short and long-term memory.  They can adapt to use objects for shelter such as coconut shells.    These animals are also able to change color to blend in with their surroundings.

As these creatures have no bones, they can easily move through small crevices.

In the Seattle Acquarium, a child-proof pillbox was given to a giant Pacific Octopus who was able to open the box in minutes.

Octopuses generally have very short life spans living only a few years, while some species live only six months.

If you’re able to spot one on a Sea Paradise snorkel tour, consider yourself lucky as they are difficult to spot.


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