Baby paralarva octopusA baby paralarva (look for the teensy white fella with the black eye) escapes to become a part of the planktonic mass. Without warning, a baby or two would emerge from the safety of their mother’s tight embrace. I could almost see the concern in her eyes as the young octopuses faded quickly into the giant world around them. While twisting to conceal and gain better control, she would expose the eggs -- allowing me a millisecond to photograph her bounty. Octopuses are born with oversized eyes that are disproportionate to their body size. Their large eyes help the paralarvae navigate the stew.
Cephalopods are amongst the most intelligent creatures on earth. These diverse mollusks are highly organised and include cuttlefish, nautiluses, squids and my current favourite, octopus. The term cephalopod is a simple word meaning head foot, but there is a little more to these animals than that.
Octopuses are bilateral creatures with eight tactile arms outfitted with suction cups. Their dexterity is amazing as they grip objects while crawling and foraging about the bottom.
Reproduction is accomplished sexually when the male deposits the spermataphore packets into the female's mantle area. One of the male's arms develops at an early age to serve as the reproductive organ to carry out the task.
Typically, the eggs are attached to a rock or deposited in a small crevice where the female will guard them literally with her life. Eating very little during the entire gestation period, the female dies once the eggs begin to hatch.
A veined octopus (Amphioctopus margnatus; also called coconut octopus) broods her eggs by creating a safe haven within her webbing. Sand-dwelling octopuses must be creative, resourceful and tough to survive on the open savannah. Without a place to attach her eggs, the mother must be all of these things and be able to escape predators, too.