Octopus leaves his lair to mate with nearby female
This handsome octopus lives on the reef in Papua New Guinea. He has found a mate and he is making his way across the reef to meet with her. But he must be very cautious as a mating opportunity can also become a feeding opportunity. Octopii are cannibalistic and his amorous endeavors could be his last.
Divers in Papua New Guinea found this beautiful creature peeking out from beneath a coral ledge. They moved closer and observed with wonder as he changed color and texture before their eyes. They left their camera and moved back a few feet. The octopus emerged and spread out on the coral.
As the divers observed longer, they saw that he was actually making his way toward another octopus that was also peeking out from a crevice. This was a female and she was allowing him to approach her.
A male octopus has a specialized reproductive arm called a hectocotylus. He uses this to transfer packets of sperm to the female into her mantle cavity.
During courtship, color change and texture change is a common behavior. If accepted, he will stretch out his arm to access the females reproductive organ under her mantle. This octopus was successful and can be seen accomplishing his goal.
After approximately 40 days, the female will release egg strings, attaching them to crevices and rocks. She will guard and care for the eggs for about five months. She will aerate the eggs and keep them clean during this time.
Sadly, the females die soon after the eggs hatch. Without her care, few eggs would survive. The male will die a few weeks after mating.
For the octopus, there is only one chance at reproduction. Mating causes a hormonal change that inhibits digestion and they die of starvation.
As beautiful and wondrous as nature is, it can be equally harsh and unforgiving.