To download high res image click the thumbnail below (or right click to open the image in a new tab) and then save the image to your computer.

IMAGES and VIDEO available • for more information contact:
Roy Caldwell, rlcaldwell@berkeley.edu
Richard Ross, rross@calacademy.org
Link to a press release from the California Academy of Sciences

Forgotten octopus rejects solitary lifestyle

The unique color patters of the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus – Photo by Roy Caldwell

The unique color patters of the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus – Photo by Roy Caldwell

BERKELEY CA (February 12, 2013) – The Larger Pacific Striped Octopus displays striking color and shape changes, shifting in an instant from a nondescript dark reddish black “leaf”, to an awesome clash of white and black stripes over constellations of white spots. Two San Francisco Bay Area scientists, Dr. Roy Caldwell of UC Berkeley and Richard Ross of the Steinhart Aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences (working from his Secret Home Lab), are studying this long ignored and little studied Central American octopus.

Caldwell, who studies such showy creatures as blue-ringed octopuses, says “The Larger Pacific Striped Octopus is the most beautiful octopus I have ever seen”. Besides coloration, what makes the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus so different from other octopuses is the way it seems to ignore what has become the standard story of octopus social structures, mating and motherhood.

Instead of living a solitary life, and coming together briefly for mating like almost  all other octopuses, the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus can cohabitate in pairs, sometimes sharing the same den.  Groups are reported to live in associations of 40 or more animals. Instead of mating from a safe distance like most other octopuses, or males mounting females as occurs in a few others, the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus are the only octopuses known to mate “beak to beak” with their ventral, suckered sides touching—a position that may be viewed as dangerous considering the cannibalistic nature of cephalopods.

Most female octopuses mate and brood a single clutch of eggs through hatching, only to die as their offspring swim into the great unknown. The Larger Pacific Striped Octopus breaks this tragic tradition. The female Larger Pacific Striped Octopus is iteroparous meaning that she lays and broods many clutches of eggs over her lifetime. One of the only other octopuses known to share this trait is the Lesser Pacific Striped Octopus (Octopus chierchiae), a tiny close relative to the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus.

Until Caldwell and Ross began studying the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus, the creature was virtually ignored.  In 1991, Arcadio Rodaniche published a short abstract  “Notes on the Behavior of the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus, An Undescribed Species of the Genus Octopus”, providing a tantalizing glimpse of this intriguing animal based on observations he made at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama in the late 70’s.  Unfortunately, detailed information contained in a full manuscript documenting the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus’s unique social and reproductive behavior was never published.  According to Caldwell, Rodaniche’s descriptions of the behavior of this species were so outside the norm of what biologists at the time thought octopuses did, they were dismissed by other cephalopod biologists.  Unable to pass peer review, the manuscript was never published and the animal was forgotten.  Living LPSOs weren’t seen again until they were rediscovered last year.  According to Ross “We are thrilled to confirm many of Rodaniche’s observations”.

Caldwell, Ross and colleagues are currently working on a species description, a behavioral paper on the LPSO and are hoping to mount an expedition to document the behavior of this octopus in its natural habitat.

Watch the LPSO change color:

 

Larger Pacific Striped Octopus displaying stripes and spots- Photo by Richard Ross

Larger Pacific Striped Octopus displaying stripes and spots- Photo by Richard Ross

 

Larger Pacific Striped Octopus presenting a dark 'leaf' display - photo by Roy Caldwell

Larger Pacific Striped Octopus presenting a dark ‘leaf’ display – photo by Roy Caldwell

A female Larger Pacific Striped Octopus tends her developing eggs by brushing them with the suckers on her arms – photo Roy Caldwell

A female Larger Pacific Striped Octopus tends her developing eggs by brushing them with the suckers on her arms – photo Roy Caldwell

image007

Larger Pacific Striped Octopus hatching – Photo by Richard Ross

 

Larger Pacific Octopuses mate dangerously 'beak to beak' - photo by Richard Ross

Larger Pacific Octopuses mate dangerously ‘beak to beak’ – photo by Richard Ross

 

Juvenile Larger Pacific Striped Octopus denning in a 3/4 inch tube

Juvenile Larger Pacific Striped Octopus denning in a 3/4 inch tube – photo by Roy Caldwell

22269306_GwFkk9-1

Larger Pacific Striped Octopus showing stripes and spots – photo by Richard Ross

Scridb filter

2 Comments

  1. What is the species name of this octopus?

    • It is currently undescribled – form the press release “Caldwell, Ross and colleagues are currently working on a species description, a behavioral paper on the LPSO and are hoping to mount an expedition to document the behavior of this octopus in its natural habitat.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>