Apr 4, 2008

Octopus Love

Oh, the vagaries and vicissitudes of an octopus's love life...

Graduate student Christine Huffard snorkeled in the waters off Indonesia to watch Abdopus aculeatus, an octopus with a spiky tan body the size of a small orange and arms 8 to 10 inches long. What she discovered was something that would get air time on a mollusk version of Jerry Springer.

...males hang out in front of their lairs to ward off any rivals--even strangling would-be suitors (Odysseus style) if needs be...

...the males prefer the big females, since they have greater egg-laying capacity...

...smaller males will approach the lairs incognito--they swim in low and keep their male coloration hidden, slip past the male guarding the female within, and then procreate with the big mama...

I'm not sure if it's comforting or discouraging to know that octopi suffer from the same relationship issues that we do.

Thanks for the article, Ida.

Photo source: Tarik Tinazay / AFP - Getty Images file via Reuters via MSNBC

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

There have also been recorded instances of up to seven males attempting to copulate with one female in one go. That was in a different species of octopus, though.

bats :[ said...

In my college animal behavior class, this was referred to as "sneaker strategy." "Lesser" males employ clever schemes to gain access to the females, usually when the Big Guys are fighting with one another or doing the guard thing, as is the case here.
"Sneakers" occur in a variety of species and are often quite successful at getting what they want.

kyrraven said...

Beautiful picture there! Cephalopod love knows no bounds. <3

Alice said...

Another wonderfully ugly undersea creature is the flat faced anglerfish:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/04/080403-fish-photo.html

I tried to email you this, but the javascript wouldn't jave for me :-(

Wee Mama

verrucaria said...

I have heard of "sneaky fuckers"* among the fish but not among the mollusks.

* That's an actual term used by biologists although you may not find it in peer-reviewed journals.