masthead

Octopus Madness

Saturday August 7, 2010

July and August is the spawning time for many of the reefs inhabitants, including wrasses, Spanish Mackerel and most interestingly octopus.

Octopus are fairly common on most of our dive sites, but are very shy and remain well hidden. However when love is in the air they lose their inhibitions! On our dives this month we have been privileged to watch their elaborate courtship. Two and sometimes three octopus emerge entirely from their bolt holes and chase and caress each other, with multiple and rapid flashes of colour and changes of skin texture. They seem oblivious to the presence of divers and have provided wonderful photographic opportunities.

In early August, whilst diving with UK divers, Miranda and her husband Gareth, we stumbled apon an elaborate courtship at our Giant Clam Site Magic Mushrooms Miranda just so happened to be a biology teacher and was able to tell us more about the amazing spectacle of Octopus courtship!

Apparently once the male octopus has managed to seduce his female partner, he passes sperm down a tentacle – the longest one he has (designed specifically for this purpose), and deposits sperm on to his female. She gives birth to mini octopi which are housed in egg sacs in a reef hole. She protectively guards this hole and tends her brood, wafting clean water over the egg sacs.

Once the eggs hatch and the baby octopi emerge, she makes the ultimate sacrifice. Her death provides the young octopi a ready supply of food to start them on their way.

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Illustration of Red tooth triggerfish