Walking fishes and running octopuses

In our first post on strange sea life, we unveiled 6 marine creatures you never knew existed. This time, we look at some that have taken locomotion to the next level – by walking and even running. Here are four sea dwellers that prefer the ‘path less taken’.


Can you see the frogfish perched on the rock?
Can you see the frogfish perched on the rock?

These masters of disguise rely on the art of camouflage (skin anomalies like spots and bumps, and changing colours) to impersonate surrounding rocks or plants in the reefs and sea floor. They also sport a modified dorsal fin with a retractable lure to attract small fish and crustaceans to striking distance before sucking them into its mouth.

But what really sets the Frogfish apart from other fish is their ability to ‘walk’. Due to their lack of swim bladders, they use their modified pectoral fins to walk, or even ‘gallop’, across the sea floor. Watch a frogfish ‘strut its stuff’ here:

‘Walking’ sharks

There are several types of longtailed carpet sharks that ‘walk’. One of them is the Epaulette Shark found in the shallow coral reefs and coastal waters of Australia.


Extreme tides and high temperatures leave the reef as a series of tide pools at low tide. When stranded on the exposed reef without water, they slow their breathing and heart rate and power down their brain to reduce oxygen intake. As such, they can survive 60 times longer without oxygen than humans can.

Then they up their survival skill by using their fins as prototype legs to crawl over to the nearest tide pool to continue hunting for crabs and worms as seen in this video:

Another ‘walking’ shark is the Bamboo Shark or Hemiscyllium Halmahera which was discovered just three years ago in Eastern Indonesia. Rather than swim, they ‘walk’ by wriggling their slender bodies and pushing with their pectoral and pelvic fins, like in this video:


Giant Pacific Octopus

They are one of the most agile creatures in the ocean with the ability to crawl, ‘jet propel’ and even squeeze into impossibly narrow crevices. But it seems octopuses have another talent – running. While running is not a common behavior of the Giant Pacific Octopus (shown in the picture above), one of the most famous octopuses known for its unique method of running is the Mimic Octopus, as seen in this video by Science Friday:

Brittle Star

Image by Neıl, source: Wikipedia
Image by Neıl, source: Wikipedia

Sea stars are slow moving sea creatures. But in the case of brittle stars, they seem to prefer to “bring things up to speed”. So much so they are the fastest-moving echinoderms – the Usain Bolt of sea stars.

Like other sea stars, brittle stars also have tube feet on their underside. What’s different is that these feet do not have suction cups at the end, and are hence not used for locomotion. Instead, brittle stars use their feet for feeding and sensing their environment. Check out their snake-like movements in this video:

Stroll by the S.E.A. Aquarium soon to catch these marine creatures in action.

Read our 2 other posts on strange marine life:
6 marine creatures you never knew existed
Marine creatures with strange names

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