An octopus' life is short — two years is a pretty common lifespan — and heavily focused on reproduction. They only get one shot at carrying on the genetic lineage and die soon after breeding. Babies are born not by the two, or tens, or even hundreds. Instead, tens of thousands of octopus siblings enter the world all at once — tiny, translucent hatchlings that ride the waves and try not to die more quickly than they already must.
This footage of an brood of giant Pacific octopuses hatching was filmed by divers in Puget Sound just a couple of weeks ago.
This baby nautilus emerged this week from an egg laid last November at San Diego's Birch Aquarium. For this tiny cephalopod, the process of being born took not hours, or even days, but weeks. The ZooBorns site has a series of photos that show how the nautilus slooooooowly emerged from the egg. Read the rest
This is a great find by Not Exactly Rocket Science's Ed Yong. A tourist and a couple of researchers from the California Academy of Sciences have documented an instance of Pacific-dwelling jawfish hiding from predators by blending into the stripes of well-known camouflage guru, the mimic octopus.
This relationship is probably a rare occurrence. The black-marble jawfish is found throughout the Pacific from Japan to Australia, while the mimic octopus only hangs around Indonesia and Malaysia. For most of its range, the jawfish has no octopuses to hide against. Instead, Ross and Rocha think that this particular fish is engaging in “opportunistic mimicry”, taking advantage of a rare chance to share in an octopus’s protection.
Perhaps you've heard the tale of the octopus that broke out of its tank at the aquarium and walked across the room to break into another tank where it proceeded to eat other forms of sea life.
That story is kind of an urban legend. It's supposedly happened at every aquarium in the world, but can't be confirmed. And experts have told me that the hard floors in an aquarium would likely seriously damage the suction pads of any octopus that tried it.
But the basic idea—that an octopus could pop out of the water and move across dry ground&dmdash;is a very real thing. Here, an octopus at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in California hauls itself out of the water, and scoots awkwardly around on land for a little bit (while some apparently Minnesotan tourists gawk), before sliding back into the water. It's not the most graceful sort of travel. But it can be very handy. Octopuses do this in nature to escape predators, and also to find food of their own in tidal pools.
As an added bonus: Scientific American just started an all-octopuses, all-the-time blog called The Octopus Chronicles. Check it out!
Marine biologist Roger Hanlon is king of the color-changing cephalopods. I've talked about him here before. In this video, narrated by NPR's Robert Krulwich, Hanlon demonstrates how much fun his job really is.
Via Robert Krulwich's blog, which has more background on the camouflage gymnastics that cephalopods are capable of.
Roger Hanlon is a scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He studies cephalopods—octopus, squid, and cuttlefish. Specifically, he studies the way these animals change their skin color and texture to match with their surroundings.
I've talked about his research before on BoingBoing Video and showed you some truly astounding footage he shot of a bunch of kelp that suddenly turns out to be a disguised octopus.
In this video segment from NPR's Science Friday, you can see more of Hanlon's videos of camouflaged cephalopods. There's also some great up-close footage of chromatophores—the special cells that allow cephalopods to change their color and shape.
Thanks to Andrea James for sending this over!
Thanks to Andrea James for sending this over!
For obvious reasons, there's not a lot of observational data concerning the behavior of deep-sea-dwelling squid. But a new study has found indirect evidence that one species of squid—the 5-inch long Octopoteuthis deletron—mates both bisexually, and promiscuously.
How do you get indirect evidence of sex? If you've ever watched CSI, you can guess. It's all about looking for sperm.
Or, in this case, spermatophores. Squid mate differently from humans. Instead of depositing sperm-filled semen directly into a female, heterosexual squid mating involves a sperm-filled biological container, of sorts. The male attaches this spermatophore to the female, and over time the sperm get absorbed into her skin. (Which is, frankly, weird. Even for spermatophore-based sex.) So, when researchers wanted to see how much sex the squid were having, they just started looking at video of squid and counting the attached spermatophores. From the BBC:
"Going through hours of video, we found that both males and females carry sperm packages. As the locations of sperm packages were similar in both sexes, we concluded that males mate with males and females."
The finding surprised the team, said Dr Hoving.
The researchers found equal numbers of female and male squid that had had sperm packages deposited on them, indicating that same-sex mating was as frequent as encounters between squid of the opposite sex.
The number of sperm packages that had been deposited also suggested that these animals were promiscuous, the researchers said.
How you interpret those findings gets a lot more speculative, though. Read the rest