National Geographic Magazine – What’s Odd About That Octopus? It’s Mating Beak to Beak.

Rich RossBy Rich Ross 5 years agoNo Comments

LPSO covered in the print version of National Geographic, April 2016 edition

Online version here: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/04/basic-instincts-octopus-mating/

Text by: Patricia Edmonds. This story ran in the April 2016 issue of National Geographic magazine.

In most octopus species it’s customary after sex for the female to make a meal—of her partner. To avoid being eaten, the male typically “jumps on top of the female, they mate in a position where he’s as far from her mouth as possible, and when they’re done, the male runs away,” says marine biologist Richard Ross of the California Academy of Sciences. That mating behavior was such accepted science that in 1982, when Panamanian marine biologist Arcadio Rodaniche reported finding an octopus that mated beak to beak and cohabited between sex acts, his research was dismissed or ignored.

Advertisement


Some three decades later, Ross and Roy Caldwell of the University of California, Berkeley, have bred and studied that elusive cephalopod, the larger Pacific striped octopus (LPSO). They’ve confirmed what Rodaniche found—and more. LPSO mates will share dens and meals, whereas most octopuses are loners (if not cannibals). LPSOs mate as often as daily, and females lay eggs over months; in most other species, females die after raising one brood. And though most octopuses couple warily, at arm’s length, LPSOs mate with the beaks on their undersides pressed together, as if kissing (above).

With all those revelations from just one species, imagine what’s still to be discovered. More than 300 octopus species are believed to inhabit Earth’s oceans, and many have never been studied.

Categories:
  Cephalopods, Science
Rich Ross
About

 Rich Ross

  (41 articles)

Richard Ross currently works as an Aquatic Biologist at the Steinhart Aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences, maintaining many exhibits including the 212,000 gallon Philippine Coral Reef. He has kept saltwater animals for over 25 years, and has worked in aquarium maintenance, retail, wholesale and has consulted for a coral farm/fish collecting station in the South Pacific. Richard enjoys all aspects of the aquarium hobby and is a regular author for trade publications, a frequent speaker at aquarium conferences and was a founder of one of the largest and most progressive reef clubs in Northern California, Bay Area Reefers. He is an avid underwater videographer and has been fortunate to scuba dive in a lot of places around the world. At home he maintains a 300 gallon reef system and a 250 gallon cephalopod/fish breeding system, and was one of the first people to close the life cycle of Sepia bandensis. When not doing all that stuff, he enjoys spending time with his patient wife, his incredible daughter and their menagerie of animals, both wet and dry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.