Larger Pacific Striped Octopus is rediscovered, comes from Nicaragua

By on Feb 13, 2013

The Larger Pacific Striped Octopus is one extraordinary cephalopod that has been known about before, but somehow fell into obscurity despite it’s overwhelming awesomeness as a living creature. In the Photo above by Roy Caldwell you can easily see that the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus is like nothing else, with the boldest black and white stripes and white stripes on black arms and webbing.

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Larger Pacific Striped Octopus displaying stripes and spots- Photo by Richard Ross

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. Both Caldwell and Ross agree that the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus is ” the most beautiful octopus [they] have ever seen” and not only is the LPSO beautiful, but it is extremely unique for an octopus.

The most fascinating fact about the Larger PSO is that it is gregarious, meaning that multiple specimens can be kept in the same tank. Several specimens seem to do ok in the same tank but sometimes a male and female will will occupy the same den, and so will two males, all of which is of course ludicrous behavior for a good card-carrying member of the Octopus, but it gets better.
LPSO matingThis incredible cephalopod seem to mate and lay eggs on a regular basis, and Rich Ross has already enjoyed a mating pair laying medium sized eggs for 8 months. But wait, there’s more, the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus mates, beak to beak, another unheard-of behavior for an octopus.

The closely related Lesser Pacific Striped Octopus. Photo Roy Caldwell

The closely related Lesser Pacific Striped Octopus. Photo Roy Caldwell

If the medium sized Larger Pacific Striped Octopus seems familiar, you may be familiar with Rich Ross’s work with the Lesser Pacific Striped Octopus, Octopus chierchiae. Indeed the initial genetic analysis seems to indicate a clear relationship but when the Larger PSO is described it may warrant placement in a new genus.

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Larger Pacific Striped Octopus presenting a dark ‘leaf’ display – photo by Roy Caldwell

Until Caldwell and Ross began studying the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus, the creature was virtually ignored. In 1991, Arcadio Rodaniche published a short abstract “Notes on the Behavior of the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus, An Undescribed Species of the Genus Octopus”, providing a tantalizing glimpse of this intriguing animal based on observations he made at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama in the late 70’s. Caldwell, Ross and colleagues are currently working on a species description, a behavioral paper on the LPSO and are hoping to mount an expedition to document the behavior of this octopus in its natural habitat.

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A female Larger Pacific Striped Octopus tends her developing eggs by brushing them with the suckers on her arms – photo Roy Caldwell

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