Scientists with the California Academy of Sciences are attempting to breed a larger Pacific striped octopus, a cephalopod so rare that it does not yet have a scientific name. The octopus, which was recently moved into the academy’s Animal Attraction exhibit, was first discovered in 1991, and briefly described with a line drawing by Panamanian biologist Aradio Rodaniche. According to a story on the California Academy of Sciences website, there isn’t a lot of information available on the species. Academy Senior Biologist Richard Ross and UC Berkeley professor Roy Caldwell will study the octopus, which was acquired from a collector in central America in February 2012, for several years where they will describe the species and attempt to successfully breed the species from paralarvae to adulthood.
The first food is the stumbling block,” Charles Delbeek, Assistant Curator for the Steinhart Aquarium and FishChannel contributor said in the story. “Their mouths are so small their first food item has to be correspondingly tiny.” When using appropriate-sized substitutes for plankton, “there’s no guarantee they’ll swim the right way and attract the hatchlings attention, striking and eating. Or let’s say they do eat—does the first food item have the proper nutritional profile? Are they eating only to slowly starve to death?”
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Little is known about the octopus, though there are factors that make them different than other octopus species, the report said. For example, this species can live in social groups, unlike other octopus species that are cannibalistic. They also mate beak to beak, and are cooler water animals. They also have stripes and spots that change color in a bilateral fashion unlike other species of octopus.