We’ve been spotting several Blue-Ringed Octopuses in the last week and to top it off, I’ve found a couple mating yesterday. Not sure if mating is seasonal since I couldn’t find any reliable information anywhere – the last pair I’ve seen was in October last year, which makes me think that Blue-Ringed mate all year round.
I could barely see the smaller male at first, being only a few centimeters in size. The female was moving around and her bright blue rings which she was flashing made her stand out from the stand and caught my attention. It was that moment when you’re torn between switching your lights on and starting to record video or tweaking your camera settings to take some stills.
Since the female was moving around a lot and being very active, I had a feeling that the magic would be over soon and started filming immediately. I had switched lens from my Olympus 60mm macro to the 12-50mm that morning and how glad I was that I did! With the 60mm macro it would have been close to impossible to keep the focus and also the subject would have been too big in size.
In this short video you can see the male “riding” on the back of the female. The male Blue-Ringed Octopus has a modified third arm, called hectocotylus which is inserted under the female’s mantel to release the sperm packs. Mating can last for minutes and sometimes hours, and those guys must have been exhausted when they finally retracted into a rubber glove covered in hydroids and algae. After a few minutes of shooting something close by,I’ve found the female again but unfortunately didn’t get a shot together with the male. Males die after mating, often because the females attack them and fight them off.
The female Blue-Ringed Octopus then lays around 50-100 eggs, guarding them for around 50 days under her tentacle until their hatch. As she’s unable to eat whilst guarding her eggs, she then dies too. The new cycle then starts with the eggs hatching and soon enough, maturing quickly, we will then see another pair of Blue-Ringed Octopus getting lucky!