8. Octopuses, When No One’s Looking

Here is a frame from a video taken last month, made by leaving a camera near two octopuses and collecting it later.

It’s a mating.

When octopuses mate, the male inserts a packet of sperm into the female by passing it along a groove underneath one of his arms – a specialized arm, usually the third right arm, as in this species. So mating often takes place at long distance. A typical example:

The mating at the top started out in a more conventional mode, but the male suddenly leapt up:

And landed in the position in the first image.

I’ve only seen this mating position a few times, and I don’t know why it’s occasionally chosen. Below I’ve increased the contrast in another image and labeled some parts to make clearer who is where.

The female has a shell in front of her. You can only see her eye and the very top of her head.

The tips of the male’s arms are curled like wrought iron. As a friend put it, it’s a very Lovecraftian look.


Matt Lawrence worked with me on this. Here is a beautiful video he made of some other animals.


Posted in Octopus, The Sexes and tagged , . permalink.

5 Responses to 8. Octopuses, When No One’s Looking

  1. Pingback: 14. Octopolis » The Giant Cuttlefish

  2. Qua says:

    The octopus is the coolest animal in existence. I couldn’t for the life of me see the female in the picture though, even after the explanation of where she was, but then I went back again and barely saw her eye, as stated. I think it’s mainly that the quality of the photo isn’t super great, but it’s still a really awesome photo. I’d really like someone to design a table like this, where the legs look exactly like the tentacles on the octopus in the picture, I think it would be pretty beautiful and awesome. They are so magnificent and mysterious and majestic.

  3. Pingback: Friday Cephalopod: Octopus pitching a tent – Pharyngula

  4. Pingback: Friday Cephalopod: Octopus pitching a tent | Pharyngula

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