The unfortunate, awkward world of octopus sex

As if it's not bad enough that there's always a risk of any social interaction turning into cannibalism, the sex lives of octopuses are further complicated by the fact that both males and females die not too long after the first time they get laid. Males only survive a few months. Females stick around long enough for their eggs to hatch, and then die soon after.

And then, of course, there's the indignity of the local aquarium scheduling your mating for Valentine's Day, in front of a crowd, and putting a video of the whole thing up on the Internet.

Sorry, octopuses.

Read more about octopus reproduction in this piece by Katherine Harmon at The Octopus Chronicles.


  1. And to make it even worse one of the aquarium employees attempted to end the octopus mating by employing the cheeping of baby seagulls, which is known to be an anti-aphrodisiac to octopuses. But he had to run to the beach to get baby seagulls. Before he could get back to the aquarium with the baby seagulls he found that a lion, which had earlier escaped from the zoo and been hit with a tranquilizer dart, had fallen asleep in his path. Carefully he stepped over the lion and was promptly arrested for…wait a minute! They were supposed to be dolphins so I could say he was arrested for transporting young gulls across a sedate lion for immoral porpoises.

    However this does have me thinking of a lovely book which I read at least a dozen times when I was young called Octopus by Evelyn Shaw. Even though it was aimed at young readers it was a very descriptive and unsentimental story of an octopus’s life cycle. To this day my parents talk about how, after reading it, I casually described octopus sex to my grandfather.

  2. I suggest that Ravel’s Bolero would be a better choice of music. Think of Bo Derek and the movie “10” if you are not sure why.

  3. FYI, skip to 3:00 if you want to jump over the foreplay and get right to the hot cephalopod on cephalopod action.

  4. Well, I for one thought that the sad, sick choice between mating and survival was excellently investigated in the Futurama episode in Decapod 10. Sure, these were more crustacean-like creatures, but their terrible choice was strikingly reminiscent of this case, nevertheless. 

  5. I’m surprised the aquarium staff didn’t bring the hammer down on the assholes using flash photography. That shit doesn’t pass in the aquarium I volunteer at.

      1. Zoo porn doesn’t interfere with peoples’ ability to enjoy the exhibit since it’s part of the exhibit. Flash photography, on the other hand…

  6. The kid that walks right past the screen at the critical moment.. 3:08… I want to put him in the tank.

  7.  with all the kids watching, i’m glad this didn’t end badly…look they are going to mate…wait, oh looks like someone is getting eaten for v-day.

    1. Given the choice of exposing their kids to death and cannibalism or exposing their kids to s-e-x, many parents would chose death and cannibalism.

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