What Is a Group of Octopuses Called?

Group of octopuses in water

It is rare to see octopuses in groups as these creatures are typically solitary, but they do gather in certain circumstances. Given this, there’s no universally accepted official term for a group of octopuses.

However, the term “consortium” is sometimes used to describe a group of octopuses, although it’s not a formal or widely accepted scientific term.

There are also other suggested names for an octopus group, but they are more imaginative than scientifically recognized terms.

Collective Noun for a Group of Octopus

A group of octopuses in the ocean

Octopuses are primarily solitary creatures and rarely form groups, which is why there isn’t a well-established collective noun for them.

The term consortium has been suggested in some sources but is not officially recognized in scientific literature.

Creative name suggestions like clutch, colony, embrace, tangle, clunk, and cuddle also exist, though these are more imaginative than scientifically established. They are also not widely used.

Interestingly, recent research has started challenging the notion of octopuses being strictly solitary, with behaviors suggesting more social interactions than previously thought.

This includes changing colors as a form of communication and forming dens close to each other.

This is what I witnessed when I visited Octopolis and Octlantis in Australia. It was my first time seeing different octopus species inhabiting dens near each other. This experience widened my understanding of their behavior.

Despite these observations, the term “consortium” remains an informal choice, and the scientific community generally doesn’t use a specific collective noun for octopuses due to their solitary behavior.

Watch this video about the underwater city of octopuses where multiple octopus dens are found:

Scientists Discovered A Never-Before-Seen Octopus 'City' — And They Named It 'Octlantis'

Why ‘Consortium’ and What Does It Mean?

The term consortium to describe a group of octopuses has an interesting origin.

It comes from a Latin word meaning “partnership” or “association.” This term is unusual when applied to octopuses since they are predominantly solitary, unlike sharks and other species.

However, there are rare occasions when octopuses might come together, such as during mating or in areas with abundant resources.

In these instances, the idea of a consortium, or a collaborative group, becomes applicable. The term reflects the octopus behavior where they engage in temporary partnerships or group activities for mutual benefit.​

How Many Octopuses Are in a Group?

Octopuses between corals on seabed

There’s no standard number for an octopus group.

Octopuses are typically solitary creatures, forming groups only in certain conditions. They live independently in dens and are territorial.

While octopuses might occasionally be seen together, particularly in resource-rich areas or during mating, these instances don’t constitute regular grouping behavior.

A striking example of a rare octopus grouping behavior was observed off the coast of California at a site known as the “Octopus Garden.”

In this unique location, researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute observed a remarkable gathering of deep-sea octopuses (Muusoctopus robustus).

Over 6,000 individuals were counted in a relatively small area of about 6.2 acres.

However, considering the entire site, which extends to approximately 823 acres, it’s estimated that there could be more than 20,000 octopuses.

This discovery is significant as it represents the largest known consortium of octopuses. The main factor drawing these octopuses to the area is the presence of hydrothermal springs.

The warmth from these springs significantly reduces the time needed for octopus eggs to hatch, providing a survival advantage to the offspring.

In typical cold, deep-sea conditions, octopus eggs might take several years to hatch, but the hatching time is reduced near these hydrothermal vents.

This research illustrates that, under certain environmental conditions, octopuses can form large groups, particularly for reproductive purposes.

Plurals for Octopus: What Do You Call Multiple Octopus?

The term octopus has three primary plural forms: octopuses, octopi, and octopodes, each reflecting different linguistic pathways.

Octopuses is the most standard form and aligns with the typical English pluralization rules.

It’s the form one would logically expect given the pattern of English grammar where nouns ending in -s are usually pluralized by adding -es. This form is widely accepted and used in contemporary English.

The plural octopi comes from a mistaken application of Latin grammar rules to the word octopus.

While the -i ending is a common Latin pluralization for words ending in -us, “octopus” actually has Greek roots, not Latin.

This form became popular in the 1900s due to the influence of Victorian-era grammarians, who often preferred Latinized forms.

However, it’s not etymologically accurate since “octopus” is derived from Greek, not Latin.

Lastly, the plural term octopodes follows the original Greek pluralization rule, which is the most linguistically accurate considering the word’s Greek origin.

Where Does the Name “Octopus” Come From?

Two octopuses underwater together

The name “octopus” has an intriguing origin rooted in its physical characteristics.

This word comes from the Ancient Greek ὀκτώπους (oktōpous), a compound of ὀκτώ (oktō), meaning “eight,” and πούς (pous), meaning “foot.”

Essentially, the name translates to “eight-foot,” fittingly describing this eight-limbed marine creature. This Greek term was later Latinized, forming the basis of the scientific Latin term “octopus.”

As it entered the English language, the word retained its reference to the octopus’s most notable feature: its eight arms.

From superb intelligence to unique group behavior, octopuses are truly fascinating marine creatures. If there are other things you want to know about rare octopus groups, just let us know in the comments!

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