Most octopi live a solitary life, but the Pacific striped octopus are different. They live in pairs, sharing the same den. They even mate face to face, which is unique for octopi, and dangerous, considering their cannibalistic tendencies. No wonder the male feels a need to show off his best sides to win the lady of his dreams – after all, they are going to live together and it’s not just about a few hours of fun.
Two San Francisco Bay Area scientists, Dr. Roy Caldwell of UC Berkeley and Richard Ross of the Steinhart Aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences (working from his home lab), are studying this long ignored and little studied Central American octopus. Caldwell, who studies such showy creatures as blue-ringed octopuses, says “The Larger Pacific Striped Octopus is the most beautiful octopus I have ever seen”. Besides coloration, what makes the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus so different from other octopuses is the way it seems to ignore what has become the standard story of octopus social structures, mating and motherhood.
Watch the male’s beautiful mating display: