Tag: octopus

“Male” Octopus Gives Surprise Birth to Thousands of Babies in a US Aquarium

When Octavius the octopus arrived at the University of Georgia’s Marine Education Center and Aquarium in August, they were holding onto a secret. Well, ten thousand secrets, to be precise.

Despite the name, it now turns out that Octavius is female. But the real surprise was that she also happened to be pregnant; the keepers had no idea until early last week, when she gave birth and turned her tank into a veritable snow globe of cephalopod eggs.

I noticed this cloud of moving dots and I realised, ‘Oh my God, she had babies. There are babies. There are babies everywhere.’ And a sort of panic ensued,” aquarium curator Devin Dumont said.

Dumont didn’t know Octavius’s sex when he received the delivery of the common octopus from Charleston’s South Carolina Aquarium. it had been caught in the wild, and nobody had stopped to check the octopus’s gonads.


Female octopuses can store sperm until conditions are perfect for the fertilisation and release of eggs, so it’s likely Octavius was waiting for the right moment to start her family of thousands.

It was during a routine tank clean that Dumont found the aquarium now had a nursery. The only clue Octavius gave to her imminent arrivals was a quiet retreat into a rocky crevice in the corner of her tank last month.

That said, it might be better not to get too attached. Even in the safe confines of captivity, baby octopuses are notoriously challenging pets. There’s a chance every one of those ten thousand or so larvae could perish.

Depressingly, Dumont could quickly go from thousands of octopuses to zero, since Octavius might also not be long for this world. Mother octopuses are known to starve themselves after giving birth.

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5 Reasons Why Octopuses Are the Weirdest

No matter how well they camouflage, octopuses will always stand out for a variety of crazy reasons — at least to those of us who live above the water line.

Octopuses are really good at blending in. They match their skin color and texture to whatever’s around them until it looks as if they’ve disappeared.

But no matter how hard they try, there are other reasons octopuses still stand out — at least to those of us who live above the water line. Here are a few ways octopuses set themselves apart:

1. They see with their skin.

No, they don’t have a million eyeballs. But scientists at the University of California in Santa Barbara discovered that octopus skin contains the same proteins that are found in eyes.

Just like the pupils of your eyes expand and contract with light, so do the muscles around an octopus’s chromatophores, which are the cells that allow it to change color.

They probably don’t pick up detail very well through their skin, but they definitely see the light!

2. They shape-shift.

Some octopuses are masters of the fake-out. The appropriately named mimic octopus would totally win Halloween with its ability to make itself look like something it’s not.

3. They have three hearts and nine brains.

Two of the hearts pump blood to the gills, and the third pumps blood to the organs in the rest of the octopus. According to Smithsonian, the third heart stops beating while the octopus is swimming.

4. They’re cannibals.

At least the giant Pacific octopus is. Found in the northern Pacific Ocean, adults often weigh more than 50 pounds.

They prefer to live alone until it’s time to mate, which is probably for the best, since they eat almost anything they can get their eight arms on — from small sharks to each other.

5. They manipulate their own RNA.

Scientists may have just discovered how an invertebrate got so smart. It turns out that octopuses can edit their own RNA.

Think about it like this: If you’re building a house, you’re going to get an architect to draw up a blueprint. That blueprint is your DNA.

To build the house, you’re going to have to hire a general contractor to execute what’s on the blueprints.

In humans, the general contractor mostly does what the blueprint says. He knows that putting in a deck when you wanted a pool could end up costing him a lot.

But for some reason, the octopus’s general contractor changes the plan in the heat of the moment. Literally. Scientists have known for a while that octopuses use RNA editing to function in the cold.

But with new information on the extent to which they pull this off, researchers now wonder if this ability will translate to a survival strategy as the oceans warm and acidify.

If humans want to make changes like this, we have to go back to the blueprints. We rely on DNA mutations passed to the next generation.

So what’s the cost to the octopus for the decisions of a headstrong contractor? Its blueprint hasn’t changed much in the last hundred million years.

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You’ll Never Eat An Octopus Again After Reading This

Humanity’s impression of octopuses throughout time, from giant monsters who sink ships to a cold, calculating beast in sci-fi tales.

What do you think is the most misunderstood aspect of the octopus?

Increasingly, people are beginning to realize octopuses are smart: New Zealand’s Sea Life aquarium made headlines for training their female octopus, Rambo, to take visitors’ photographs.

Octopuses have been long famous for escaping from their tanks (often to enter adjacent tanks to eat the occupants!). But few people realize that, as well as being smart, octopuses can also be remarkably playful and affectionate.

As we know from our relationships with our friends, lovers, and children, it’s impossible to fully know what’s in another’s heart (or hearts, since an octopus has 3)!

But we do know several things for sure about octopuses, and one is that they recognize individuals—and behave differently toward those individuals depending their on past experience with them.

This was clearly shown in experiments conducted by Roland Anderson and Jennifer Mather in Seattle aquarium: identically dressed volunteers were divided into two groups.

One always fed the octopuses fish, and the other always touched them with a bristly stick (which octopuses don’t like.)

Quickly the octopuses began to eagerly approach the people who had fed them, and avoid those who irritated them, even when the people left the fish and sticks behind.

Some of the octopuses who had been irritated even blasted those volunteers in the face with salt water when they saw them!

Octopuses are individuals, too. Some are shy, others bold. One at Seattle Aquarium was named Emily Dickinson because she hid behind her tank filter all the time.

Another was named Leisure Suit Larry, because his arms were all over anyone who cared to touch him. And individuals have individual preferences.

Humans, unfortunately, sometimes behave as if we are the only species capable of thinking and feeling.

But whether you accept the evidence for evolution, or believe in the Creation stories of the world’s great religions, both tell us we humans are part of a family of living creatures, formed by the same forces from the same raw materials.

Why should humans alone be capable of consciousness? Consciousness has survival value, after all. And who wants to be alone on an (imaginary) pinnacle? Not me!

In a perfect world, perhaps we would never keep animals in captivity. But “captivity” doesn’t have to be a jail.

Think of the happy life of a dog in a loving home, for instance, versus the grueling struggle of a feral dog.

If you look at it from the standpoint of an individual octopus, being captured wild to live out your life in an aquarium with ample space, a committed staff, and interesting things to do just beats the heck out of the fate of the average wild octopus: only 1 in 50,000 octopuses manage not to be eaten alive before they can lay eggs or mate with a female.

And their fellow sea creatures aren’t octopuses’ only predators. There is a fishery for octopus–many of whom are cut up alive to be used as bait for other fish.)

Given our world as it is–and our seas under siege from pollution, overfishing, and global climate change—I think it’s not a sin, under the right conditions of course, to make a handful of well cared for octopuses into ambassadors from the wild sea.

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8 Outrageous Facts About Octopuses

There’s absolutely no telling how many moms and dads have reached a point during this holiday season when they’ve thought, “I can’t do everything at once. I’m not an octopus, y’know!”

Well, having eight arms might sound like fun, but there’s more to being an octopus than spitting out ink and attending Detroit Red Wings games.

Here are 8 facts about these fascinating aquatic creatures that you may not have known. Enjoy!

1. All varieties of octopus are venomous.

Fortunately, only a few species have enough venom to injure or kill a human being. One of these is the blue ringed octopus, which is responsible for at least two confirmed deaths.

Octopi inject their venom using a tough beak-like mouth that sticks out of the side of their head. It’s similar to a bird’s beak and is made of the same tough material as a lobster’s shell.

2. A female octopus, known as a hen, may lay 100 thousand eggs..

…over its one-to-two-week fertile period.

The transparent eggs are protected by the mother in the octopus’ lair for several weeks. In most species, the eggs hatch, and the larval octopi swim for the surface where they may remain for a month or more.

The vast majority of them die during this period.

Weather and turbulent water get many of them, while others are swallowed up along with plankton by larger sea creatures.

3. An octopus’ “ink” serves three important purposes.

Most – but not all – octopus species come equipped with an “ink sac” that spews out a stream of dark liquid into the water when the creature is threatened.

When frightened, an octopus often “swallows” water with its body and ejects it forcefully. This not only propels the animal away from the danger, but also forces out a trail of “ink.”

This ink, which may be red, brown, or black, is made of melanin, the same dark pigment that colors human skin and hair.

The ink’s effects are three-fold: First, the initial “jet” of ink visually distracts, confuses, and perhaps even frightens the predator.

Secondly, it may interfere with the predator’s sense of smell or sight. And third, once dispersed, the ink clouds the water to help give the octopus time to escape.

4. An octopus’ suckers are arranged in two rows down each arm

Some species have more suckers than others. And while some species grow a standard number of suckers on each arm by the time they become adults, the number of suckers on the arms of other species may vary.

In some cases, female octopi have more suckers than the men, but only because of what “makes the male the male.”

5. One arm of a male octopus is, well, special.

The third right arm, to be exact. At the tip of this “hectocotylus” arm is the ligula, which serves as its reproductive organ. In some species, the arm is visibly different since it has fewer suckers than the other seven arms.

When a male fertilizes a female’s eggs, she doesn’t necessarily lay them right away. She may hold them for days or weeks before she feels ready to do so.

6. An octopus sees the same thing upside down as right-side up.

The large and complex eyes of an octopus help it to perform the two functions most necessary for survival: finding food and avoiding trouble.

While most of the rest of the creature’s body is quite flexible in the water, the eyes are more solid. As a result, some species of octopus can squeeze through tight spaces only slightly larger than their eyes.

Oddly, an octopus’ eyes have horizontal pupils (in direct contrast to felines, whose eyes have vertical pupils).

What’s even more unusual is that the octopus’ eyes remain at the same orientation regardless of the creature’s position.

So if it turns on its side or even upside down, the gaze of the eyes remain fixed in relation to the horizon.

7. Octopi don’t like the spotlight.

Octopi like to keep hidden away. They’ll usually find a cave or a formation in the rocks that allows them to remain secluded, but smaller octopi may hide inside a clamshell.

They can actually crawl inside and use their suckers to pull the shell closed. Once the creatures get larger, however, they find clamshells are more interesting because they tend to include a tasty clam.

A hungry octopus may perform any of a number of steps to open a clamshell.

It may drill into the shell using its beak, it may use digestive juices to soften up the shell to break inside, or it may use its suckers and arms to pull the shell apart.

8. An octopus may also eat its own.

A hungry adult octopus isn’t shy about consuming young octopi. After all, the smaller creatures can’t put up much of a fight.

What’s more, a study published in the March 2008 edition of Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology describes a female octopus that attacked, suffocated, and spent two days eating a male who’d just mated with her 13 times over a 3.5-hour period.

And you thought your significant other was needy…

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