Octopus breeding is one of the greatest romantic tragedies of the sea, with both females and males typically dying soon after they mate. Female octopuses have even been known to kill and eat males during mating.
To mate, the male octopus places his sperm packets (spermatophore) inside the mantle cavity of the female using a special arm called a hectocotylus that has a central groove, similar to a spoon. As a benthic animal, the female carries the sperm and eggs separately until the eggs have been laid; only then will she spread the sperm over the eggs to fertilize them. An octopus can lay up to 200,000 eggs at a time. Eggs take weeks and sometimes even months to fully form inside the female, and another 2-10 months to hatch, depending on temperature, conditions, and species.
Most octopuses hatch as paralarvae and float about in a planktonic state feeding on other organisms floating alongside them, such as larvae, copepods and arthropods. A young octopus can increase its weight by up to 5% per day, and will do so until it has increased its body mass enough to sink down to the ocean floor, where it develops directly into adulthood.
Sadly, the lifespan for these highly intelligent creatures is 6-months to 5-years, depending on the species. There are currently around 300 known species of octopus.
This tiny octopus was trapped in a bag of garbage we pulled from the ocean while diving with Liquid Dive Adventures near Tofo Beach, Mozambique. Here Captain Manny is releasing the octopus back into the sea after rescuing it from the plastic bag. Read more in our post, Following the Whale Song: Scuba Diving Tofo Beach, Mozambique.