Due to their ability to keep supplying oxygen to their body tissues, octopods can survive temperature habitats ranging from as low as -1.8C to more than 30C.
A new study shows that a blue colored pigment, hemocyanin, in their blood, responsible for oxygen transport, crucially allows octopods to live in freezing temperatures.
Research by Michael Oellermann, Hans Portner and Felix Mark at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany, looked at how octopods are able to supply oxygen to tissues in freezing temperatures.
The researchers compared the properties of blood pigment haemocyanin, responsible for oxygen transport, of Antarctic, Temperate and Warm-Adapted octopods.
The researchers found that the forms of haemocyanin of the Antarctic octopod Pareledone charcoti, are genetically and functionally different from the temperate and warmer climate octopods, facilitating oxygen release at sub-zero temperatures.
"Octopods are mainly local non-migratory species that move by crawling and have only short life stages in which they inhabit the water column," Oellermann said.
"They are therefore mostly unable to migrate away from or escape 'bad' environmental conditions, which exposes them to higher adaptive pressure to deal with these conditions.
"Our finding shows a crucial physiological adaption in cold environments that allows octopods to sustain an aerobic life," he added.
The study was presented at the Society for Experimental Biology meeting.