Friday, October 15, 2010

The Blue Ringed Octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata or Hapalochlaena Maculosa) is found if the phylum mollusca, class cephalopoda. Though it is one of the smallest cephalopods, it is easily the deadliest.

The octopus can only be found in waters from Australia south, in depths of up to 50 meters. typically known as an indo pacific animal, rare sightings have occurred in the Atlantic. Some marine biologists think that those sightings were just released “pets”

The Octopus in gerneral is considered a highly intelligent animal by biologists around the world. This is accomplished in part by a larger brain than most invertebrates. Besides being smarter than other invertebrates, the ability for an octopus to camouflage itself, I believe, is second to none. this amazing ability to camouflage exponentially increases its ability to survive against predators in the wild, as well as effectively ambush prey, the octopus’ preferred method of hunting.
Another way that the octopus can protect itself from predator is the ink sac it has stored in the mantle, or head, just above the anus. if threatened, the octopus can eject ink through the Siphon on the side of the mantle, filling the surrounding water with ink, confusing the predator, and causing the octopus to have a safe getaway.
The Blue Ringed Octopus’ diet mainly of small fish, shrimp, prawns, and other small crustaceans.

Perhaps the most stunning defense mechanism of the Blue Ringed Octopus is its venom and the deadly venom it contains. The poison is call Tetradotoxin,and it is found in the saliva of the octopus.

It is a paralzing venom also found in pufferfish that inhibits motor skill, such as movement of your arms, legs, and even mouth. Victims have reported full consciousness during this, without pain, but if not treated immediately, it can lead to respiratory arrest within one hour. there is no anti-venom for the blue ring, and the only way to stop it is to give artificial breathing immediately until the poison is out of their system, usually within 24 hours.
The blue ring’s gonads are also located in the mantle, and reproduction is by a male inserting on of his arms called a hectocotylus into the females mantle after pouncing on her. The spermophores on the males arm are released into the eggs of the female, and within a few weeks, the female lays 50-100 eggs. after a 40 day brooding period, the female gives birth to free swimming larvae called paralarvae, and swim around for a month, gaining weight, and then settle to the bottom and live the rest of their life. the female will die shortly after giving birth.

“We studied the reproductive behaviour of the blue-ringed octopus, Hapalochlaena lunulata, in the laboratory by examining 15 male–male and nine male–female interactions. The initiation of physical contact was independent of sex, size or residency status, and there were no noticeable changes in behaviour such as sexual displays associated with courtship or aggression prior to contact. Males did not distinguish between females or other males and copulated (defined as the insertion of the hectocotylus into the mantle cavity of another octopus) readily with both. Spermatophores were released in all copulations with females but not with males. The duration of copulation was significantly longer in male–female interactions (median 160.5 min) than in male–male interactions (median 30 s). Although male–male copulations ended passively with the withdrawal of the hectocotylus by the initiating animal, male–female copulations were always terminated by the females following an intense struggle. These studies suggest the inability of male H. lunulata to determine the sexual identity of potential mates prior to the insertion of the hectocotylus and demonstrate the active role of the female during copulation.”

During this experiment/study, marine biologists looked at sexual encounters with blue ringed octopus’. they realized that the original mating tactic of insterting the hectocotylus, but the encounter time was very different. male to male was 30 seconds, while male to female was very long, at 160.5 minutes. as well as the way the act was ended. male to male, by choice. male to female was ended by a long struggle by the female.

Aside from an estimated 50-100 deaths per year, the blue ringed octopus does not have much of an impact on the world other than its valuable place in the ecosystem. But as far as human are concerned, they are inedible, very small, and have no economic value other than a pretty picture to sell on postcards. These things true, the Blue Ringed octopus is a beautiful, majestic creature, and hopefully will stay in the ecosystem for a long long time.

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