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Monday, May 23, 2011

Breeding / Reproduction in Octopus

Sea life is amazing with beautiful and colorful sea animals like sea turtles, octopus, sea horse, etc. They live in the Atlantic, pacific and Arctic Ocean. Young octopus is a soft-bodied sea animal that grows at a fast rate, because it has a very short life span. The octopus, on an average, lives three to five years, therefore it has no time to waste. It turns the food it eats into body mass very effectively. A young octopus puts weight by 5 percent each day. Once an octopus reaches its adulthood, it has an urge to mate. Like all creatures, the purpose of its life is to reproduce. Both the male and female octopus die after mating. The male dies after a few months and the female dies soon after the eggs hatch. For a lot of species, mating is a flashy ritual but for octopuses it is like they are having a business communication.

According to the biologist, when a female octopus is ready to mate, she releases a chemical attractant. This is distributed by the ocean currents. Then the males are drawn to the female by this scent in the oceanic currents. Once the male accepts the female, he will transfer the sperms called as spermatophore. The male octopus has no suckers at the end of its third right arm. It is a modified structure. The modified arm of the male octopus is called hectocotylus. It is a meter long, and it holds a row of sperms in it. Based on the species, the male octopus will approach a receptive female. He will insert the arm in her oviduct. The male octopus might take it off and give it to her to store in her mantle. Later on, the female keeps the arm until she lays the eggs. At this time, she takes off the arm out and spreads the sperm over her eggs in order to fertilize them.

The female is the caretaker of the eggs until they hatch, and she forgoes the food the entire time. She blows the currents across the eggs to keep them clean. She protects them from the predators. The eggs incubate for 2 to 10 months. This depends on the water temperature and the species.

Once they hatch, they are left to themselves. One of the sources has estimated that 1 percent of them survive. This is true for the giant Pacific octopus. It all depends on the species of the octopus; some of the octopuses will start their life as small speck floating in the oceanic surface. They drift down as they reach a larger size. Whereas, some start a bit bigger on the bottom of the ocean. Little is known about the octopus owing to its reclusive nature.
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