A photo of larger Pacific striped octopus.

Most octopuses are loners, but larger Pacific striped octopuses, like the one shown here, display surprising social behaviors.

PHOTOGRAPH BY RICH ROSS, CALIFORNIA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

Katherine Harmon Courage

for National Geographic

PUBLISHED JULY 28, 2014

If recent octopus discoveries have taught us anything, it’s that these eight-armed ocean dwellers are smart. They can use tools, change color in an instant, and commission their arms to solve problems. But they generally do all this as loners.

 Now, new research into a surprisingly social octopus is shattering even the most expansive ideas of known octopus behavior. (Related: “Journey of Octopus Discovery Reveals Them to Be Playful, Curious, Smart.”)

Panamanian biologist Aradio Rodaniche first reported the Pacific striped octopus in 1991 off the coast of Nicaragua, noting its strange behavior—living in groups of possibly up to 40, laying multiple egg clutches, and mating face-to-face and sucker-to-sucker. Most other octopus species, for instance, come together only to mate.

But scientists didn’t see another one of these curious octopuses for another 20 years, when Richard Ross, a biologist at the California Academy of Sciences, came across one in 2012. Through a commercial collector, he acquired several wild specimens to study in the lab.

Ross is one of the few scientists who are studying and observing some of this octopus’s truly bizarre—and sometimes anxiety-provoking—behavior, which he and his team will describe in an upcoming publication.

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From reef2rainforest.com
b
y Matt Pedersen

Adult Pygmy Seahorse, Hippocampus bargibati,  on pink coral, Muricella- it was unknown if they would venture onto the pink coral. Image by Richard Ross

Adult Pygmy Seahorse, Hippocampus bargibati, on pink coral, Muricella – it was unknown if they would venture onto the pink coral. Image by Richard Ross

Opinion by Matt Pedersen

We just shared the news of the first successful captive-breeding of Hippocampus bargibanti at the wet hands of Steinhart aquarists Matt Wandell and Richard Ross. Marine breeders, and more specifically seahorse propagators, are no doubt ecstatic (Dare I borrow a line from from Ross: “Their heads are falling off”).

Of course, why didn’t this happen until now, and why can’t we all rush out to buy a captive-bredBargibant’s Seahorse? More »

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From reef2rainforest.com
by Matt Pedersen

An adult Bargibant's Pygmy Seahorse, behind the scenes at the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences - image courtesy Richard Ross.

An adult Bargibant’s Pygmy Seahorse, behind the scenes at the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences – Image courtesy Richard Ross.

Matt Wandell and Richard Ross are two professional aquarists who need no introduction to serious marine aquarium audiences. This dynamic duo of public aquarists has the kind of job most all of us would gladly commit manslaughter to have, working for the Stienhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences. Wandell and Ross get to work on the type of aquarium systems most of us can only dream of and certainly will never afford.  As if that wasn’t enough, they get to galavant around the globe on expeditions looking for new and interesting animals and husbandry challenges that many of us will never have the opportunity to tackle - like keeping and breedingHippocampus bargibanti, Bargibant’s Pygmy Seahorse. Can you smell, can you taste, the envy? More »

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From WIRED
BY NICK STOCKTON

10 day old baby Pygmy Seahorse hunting copepods

10 day old baby Pygmy Seahorse hunting copepods

For the past three weeks, Richard Ross has been spending his mornings next to a small tank in a back room at the Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco. He leans in close. Not only is the room dark, but the fish inside this tank are masters of hiding in plain sight. They are Bargibant’s pygmy sea horses, and their orange, studded bodies twitch and sway just like the piece of coral they’ve wrapped their tiny, tiny tails around.

They are the first pair of pygmy sea horses to ever see the inside of an aquarium, and Ross is the first biologist to watch their daily pair bonding in a controlled environment.

As the lights slowly turn on, Ross can see that the two fish, each barely an inch long, are facing each other and twitching in unison. They rub snouts and butt heads. This ritual is part of their mating cycle, which culminates every 14 days with the birth of 60 to 70 babies. Immediately afterward, the pair detach from their pieces of coral, wrap their tails tightly, and the female deposits her eggs into the male’s belly sac, where he’ll fertilize and incubate the clutch.

Sea horse researchers call this the copulatory rise. ”The whole thing is very awkward,” says Matt Wandell, Ross’ colleague at the Steinhart Aquarium. On June 22nd, Ross and Wandell expect the pair to give birth for the third time since they arrived at the aquarium on May 20th. More »

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From Reef Threads

rtheader

It’s our 175th podcast, also known as the Queen’s Plasma Centennial Jubilee podcast. This week we bring you a small bucketload of semi-interesting to absolutely fascinating discussion items about the reef-aquarium hobby, including NERAC events, Long Island Aquarium, collecting shore shrimp, Todd Gardner, Richard Ross and designer/feeder clownfish, instant-cycle goop from the Tanked people, and bottled bacteria. Download the podcast here, orsubscribe to our podcasts at iTunes. Also, follow us on Twitter at reefthreads.—Christine and Gary

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