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Octopus Behavior Research



Octopuses drill a hole in the shells of gastropods and bivalves to release their venom, paralyze the prey and therefore relax the prey’s grip on the shell, and eventually remove the gastropod from its shell. It is a process that hasn’t been well studied, partly because it’s almost impossible to observe when the octopus has enveloped the shell.

This is the Abdopus aculeatus I am working with and the hole it drilled last week in the shell of Littorina littorea, a sea snail:

The octopus repeatedly drills the exact same location on each shell


Octopuses mate by having the male insert his third right arm into the funnel (essentially the nose) of the female. The male has a groove here in which the spermatophores are stored. 

We observed many Larger Pacific Striped Octopus (a newly described species) mate. They have a very interesting color shift in which the female will lose her color during the mating process. Because these are large-egged octopuses, it is relatively easy to rear them in the lab.

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