Nature hides much of her beauty from us. Sometimes, though, we are blessed enough to come across her veiled treasures. Such was the discovery of a mysterious octopus that displayed astonishing features in contrast with other known octopus species.
A relative of the octopus was first discovered. This one was striped and extremely tiny, comparable to the size of the little finger. It was named Octopus chierchiae. Marine biologist Roy Caldwell had noted one peculiar characteristic after he brought a few specimens to his lab: the females did not die after laying eggs; rather, she went about with her normal life and gave more eggs. Documenting it further proved to be almost impossible since it was not seen again.
“If I had known more, I would have written about it,” he said of the animal’s behavior.
The octopus that has recently been documented is larger – the size of a tennis ball – and has also remained elusive. It has not been studied thoroughly and thus does not even have a scientific name; it is only known as the larger Pacific striped octopus, or LPSO.
LPSO has also displayed unusual behaviours for an octopus. It was claimed to thrive in large colonies, living as pairs after mating. These early findings were not confirmed by behavioralists themselves though.
Thankfully, Caldwell and his team have succeeded at bringing the LPSO to their lab for observation since 2012. Their scientific paper recording their findings have recently been published in the journal PLOS ONE. They confirmed that the LPSO mated beak-to-beak, were gregarious, and could spawn for long periods of time.
They also recorded the hunting technique of the octopus: when the animal would identify its prey, it would darken and compress its body and then, it would reach out with an arm equipped with a fist-like ball of suckers at its end. It would poke its prey at that point to draw it into its arms.
“It’s fairly dramatic,” he said. “It’s an animal that’s responsive in ways other octopus aren’t. I’ve never seen another species do this.”