On August 12, 2015, the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus (LPSO) received some long overdue attention when amazing research that had lain dormant for 25 years was finally published by the journal PLOS One. Arcadio Rodaniche had spent several years observing and eventually documenting some very unique behaviors in a paper that was received with some skepticism at a conference in 1990, and months later rejected by a peer reviewer for a scientific bulletin. Apparently the scientific community was not quite ready to accept that the LPSO did not fit the stereotype of the typical octopus. Unlike other species whose mating is done with great caution - the male passing the spermatophores at arm's length to avoid getting cannibalized – LPSO mating is performed in a more intimate "beak to beak" fashion. In addition, the female lays eggs for extended periods of time, continuing to mate and feed instead of starving to death after her one and only clutch. And unlike their more anti-social counterparts, mating pairs of this species will cohabit a single den and share food for up to three days.
This research would have remained unrecognized if not for a lucky occurrence. Dr. Roy Caldwell of UC Berkeley was on sabbatical at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama in the 70s when he first met Rodaniche, but it wasn't until 2012 when Caldwell and his colleagues were doing work with O. chierchiae that they accidentally received some LPSO in a shipment from Nicaragua. When they couldn't find any information in scientific literature, Caldwell managed to locate the retired Rodaniche in Altoona, PA, who then shared his unpublished manuscript and became a co-author. Three subsequent years of observation in California verified Rodaniche's original findings, adding important details, and initiating a search for new data, in particular octopus behavior in the wild.
- Bizarrely Social and Crafty Octopus Stuns Scientists (via Newsweek)
- Octopuses Filmed Mating Face-to-Face — A First (via National Geographic)
- An Octopus That Mates 'Beak-to-Beak' (via The New York Times)
- Harlequin Octopus Makes Scientists Question 'Anti-Social' Stereotypes (via KQED Science)
- His cephalopod studies were also featured in the BBC documentaries "The Trials of Life" and "Aliens From Inner Space", as well as the French documentary "Fous d'animaux - Les yeux de la mer" which is available on YouTube.