Romancing the Octopus

Some new clues about the love life of the octopus

08-01-2008 // Hannah Schardt

A NEW STUDY from the University of California–Berkeley shows that when it comes to finding and keeping a mate, octopuses are not the unsophisticated loners scientists have long considered them. For several weeks, researchers tracked a lively community of Abdopus aculeatus octopuses—spiky cephalopods with 8- to 10-inch arms—off the coast of Indonesia. Many males selected a specific female, then guarded her den for days, keeping rivals at arms’ length. Some smaller males used a different tactic, masquerading as females by swimming low to the ocean floor in order to sneak past larger, stronger males. But perhaps the most surprising finding is how social and engaged in courtship the animals are when seeking mates.

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